CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico – Digital Green, an agricultural website in India, has found that producing and sharing content is best done at the grassroots level. By creating videos using as many local faces as possible, the company has found them ten times more effective per dollar spent than previous agriculture extension work.
“We are trying to build on the existing social networks of these communities and use technology as a leverage,” Rikin Gandhi, chief executive officer at Digital Green, said.
When using scholars to explain differing farming methods, the viewers dwindled.
“They see a great socioeconomic, demographic and educational disconnect between those individuals and themselves,” Gandhi said of farmers attitudes towards university and government officials.
They want to hear from similarly resource-constrained small farmers. By using a village’s local farmer as an actor in the educational videos, the perception of being a pupil is lost and viewers increase.
Using familiar faces also creates local stars and role models. The farming methods highlighted in the videos are seen as a first choice, not a last resort.
“Some farmers adopt these practices just so they can be seen on video as role models in their respective communities,” Gandhi said.
Displaying the videos brings the community together, generally twice a week. Battery powered projectors run by local, certified and trained, facilitators display the on-demand videos offline. The video can be paused, rewound, or viewed again for questions or comments, answered by the local villager.
“Having these local facilitators familiar with caste and political structure of the community were important in terms of relaying information to fellow members,” Gandhi said.
Digital Green aims for each educational video to be produced in the local district.
Eighty percent of the video content — land, actors, facilitators on and off the screen — are local, Gandhi said.
Farming communities can become even more tight knit using Digital Green’s online aspects. For those that have Internet access, the Digital Green videos create a larger community. Information as to whom has watched what video and what questions they may have asked is also available.
“It’s important to broaden the participation of these communities so they too can be able to take their one small step towards improving their lives and those around them,” he said.
The company’s website and YouTube channel categorize each video for easy access and learning.