Thursday, December 10, 2015

Flicker of Farmer

In the earlier blog, I mentioned about Dr. Anamika Ray Memorial Trust and the contribution of Dr. Anamika to the field of media and communication. As a tribute to her contributions, today I would like to share her another article on a community video project- Digital Green, which was originally published at the CEMCA Newsletter, a month prior to her demise in the May issue, 2015.  All her publications are now the property of the Trust and the Trustees can be reached at this mail id.
Flicker of Farmer 
Digital Green
By Dr. Anamika Ray


It can be said that seeing is believing. Technology when combined with social organizations can effortlessly facilitate the diffusion of innovations.  With the help of hi-tech boom in media, by the end of 2016, Digital Green aspires to reach one million farmers across eleven thousand villages in India and other parts of South Asia along with Sub Saharan Africa (Annual Report 2012).

Digital Green aims to empower as well as to improve the livelihoods of rural communities especially in farming sector by engaging target audiences in a process of knowledge exchange.  Though the concept of participatory communication is not novel, participation in a digital platform like producing localized videos and disseminating them through human mediation can be considered a new paradigm for rural development. The videos are produced ‘by the community.’ The topics of these audiovisual resources are based on the various needs and interests ‘of the community’. The videos are screened ‘for the community’. Digital Green, a nonprofit international organization, has made this possible.  This approach has been found to be ten times more cost effective, per rupee spent, than traditional agricultural extension services.

With the help of local public, private, civil society organizations and the engagement of local communities, Digital Green has produced over 4,000 videos in more than 28 languages, reached 4,000 villages and over 400,000farmers. Emphasizing on the knowledge exchange of improved practices and technologies pertaining to agriculture, livelihoods, nutrition, and health, the organization has selected nine states (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh) of India and parts of Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Afghanistan in association with 20 partners.

The Background

India, like most developing countries,depends upon agriculture for their existence. Agricultural extension often represents a major part of government policies.  But as technology has pervaded certain parts of society, the digital divide among farming communities has expanded. Considering this context in 2008, Digital Green was started to involve communities in development (especially on agriculture extension) by combining social organization and technology. The use of participatory video for information dissemination on various improved practices of livelihood and agriculture by Digital Green represents a unique strength, where the adoption of new process for increasing productivity has become very easy for the farmers.

Reason Why DG
·         Dearth of required knowledge on farming
·         Asymmetric access to information in rural communities
·         Continuous land degradation
·         Increasing transition to high-value agricultural production
·         Decreasing rate of public investments in agricultural development
·         Trend toward liberalization of agricultural trade
     Though India has the second largest number of extension workers, it cannot be ignored that due to a variety of factors, such as increasing debts, farmers are forced to sell their land in loss and some even take the extreme decision of suicide. In this context, Digital Green came into existence with the idea to support agricultural communities through proper training, problem solving consultancy, direction for suitable marketing and knowledge exchange.

Source: Digital Green

How Digital Green Works

The organization’s approach involves three key elements: Initiation, Production, and Diffusion.

Initiation:  This is basically the stage of background research and training. It includes mobilization, situation analysis, and capacity building. In this stage, the preliminary work is to select villages and understand the local context, identify resource persons from the community that can be engaged, and prepare a project plan. Video to pics are decided through focus group discussions.  Digital Green then provides training on video production, mediated video screening, and feedback and data management to the local community resource persons. They are taught how to handle video camera, write storyboards, edit videos, handlepico projectors, facilitation skills, and data capture and analysis protocols.  As a part of data management, Digital Green introduces its management information system, called Connect Online Connect Offline (COCO), Analytics Dashboards, Videos Library, and Farmer book.

Production: This phase includes content production, storyboard writing, shooting, and editing. Based on expert opinion, local relevance, and community and scientific appropriateness, the content is decided for the final production. The community members serve as the actors as they are keen to share their experiences and be seen as role models within their communities.  The videos are not scripted, but rather, employ a simple storyboard format to ensure the completeness and clarity of the messages.  The storyboard includes a story line for the video, visual panels, and key adoption points. After video production, the community film making team uses simple video editing software, like Windows Movie Maker, to assemble the footage into a final video. Subject Matter Specialist (SMS) then approve it before distribution.

Diffusion: This stage includes activities including video dissemination, farmer adoption, and community usage data and feedback recording.  Videos are distributed to community groups, mostly women-led self-help groups, using a battery-operated pico projector.  These screenings are facilitated by a member of the community who pauses and rewinds videos and engages community groups in an interactive discussion based on the presented content.  There typically are 6-8 such groups in each village which each are comprised of 10-15 farmers that attend one video screening every fortnight.  The videos that are screened are sequenced based on geographic and time sensitivities related to agricultural cycles.  At each screening, mediators record farmer attendance, questions, and interests and afterwards which practices farmers actually applied on their own farms.  This data is recorded in COCO.  Digital Green also has quality assurance protocols for gauging mediator performance and cross-validating the adoptions that mediators report.


Digital Green is reshaping agricultural development by building a social network of community members learning and sharing locally relevant knowledge with one another through technology. Digital Green also has established relationships with other organizations, like IRRI and ICRISAT, to bring together research and extension partners on a common platform. Digital Green has extended its approach for agricultural extension to issues related to community mobilization, financial literacy, health, and nutrition. The organization received the Manthan Award in 2012 and Rs. 3 crores as Global Impact Award from Google in 2013. With 75 team members, Rikin Gandhi (CEO of DG) is the man of the noble success of the organization. This 33 years old Indian American boy is the anchor of Pan India Movement, which is called Digital Green. He was awarded IFA Norman Borlaug Award by the International Fertilizer Industry Association in 2012.

Annual Report & Audited Financial Statements 2012. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2014, from,-19,444
Digital Green Best Practice Documentation. (2011, June). Retrieved June 12, 2014, from
Digital Green Best Practice Documentation. (2011, June). Retrieved June 12, 2014, from
Digital Green - Annual Report 2010-11: Our Progress. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2014, from
Digital Green - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2014, from
Digital Green. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2014, from
Digital Green. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2014, from
Key Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2015 from
Press Releases. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2014, from
SOP. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2014, from

Dr. Ray was an Assistant Professor in Mass Communication at Gauhati University, Guwahati; Sikkim Central University, Gangtok; Cotton College, Guwahati, and associated with about 10 Universities and Institutes of Higher Education of India and beyond. This article has been reviewed by Mr. Rikin Gandhi, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Greens and he can be reached at rikin[at]digitalgreen[dot]org. Photo Credit: Digital Green.

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