Rikin Gandhi

Ashoka Fellow
New Delhi, DL, India
Fellow Since 2010
Digital Green

Citation

This profile was prepared when Rikin Gandhi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Rikin launched Digital Green after carefully studying agriculture extension services. The success of the system is based on the extension officer and his mobility; often the information only reaches big landowners and farmers. The Digital Green method recreates the relationship between the agriculture extension worker and the community and creates a new ecosystem of community learning where the community creates, disseminates, and evaluates the information.

The intervention uses video as a basis for disseminating agriculture practices. The medium in many ways is optimally designed for interacting with smallholders, as it overcomes problems of illiteracy and is an intuitively accessible technology, especially when the advice and information in the video is conveyed by local and progressive farmers. Cropping patterns, weather patterns and agricultural practices of a particular area are studied and content is created with the help of community members. The videos feature a progressive farmer explaining effective practices that he/she is using to increase yield. Seeing a fellow farmer use a particular method in a context and a language that is relevant creates incentive among other farmers to adopt the practice.

While technology is the tool that is employed in the Digital Green intervention, an integral feature is the feedback mechanism which ascertains the effectiveness of the method. Through this mechanism the community members become creators and facilitators of the content, thereby becoming part of a new knowledge infrastructure.

The Digital Green team is developing a management dashboard to see how many screenings a farmer attended, the videos a farmer watched, the kinds of questions asked, practices adopted by them, and videos in which they can be featured in the future. Community members involved in mediating video screenings in their communities capture this data on customized paper formats and provide follow-up support to farmers in the field as and when requested to do so. The data from these paper formats is relayed to district-level hubs where they are reviewed and uploaded into a central database by the partner staff members and Community Resource Persons involved in video production, to inform the next iteration of videos that are produced and to better schedule the videos shown during screenings. While in the traditional method the cost to convince one person to adopt a farming practice is US$30, in the Digital Green method it is merely US$3. The multiple feedback loops created in the process is what makes Digital Green score over traditional extension services.

To keep costs low, Digital Green works in partnership with other citizen organizations (COs) that have a relationship with farming communities and have an existing system of extension work. Digital Green embeds its tools and training into the work that these partner organizations are doing with the communities. Eventually, Digital Green transfers ownership of the process to the partner organization and moves onto newer geographical areas.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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