Rikin Gandhi has been replacing the old architecture of agriculture extension services with a new, efficient model where the community is involved in the creation, dissemination, facilitation, and evaluation of locally relevant content. He is using modern information technology, to focus on the efficiency of information dissemination and application.
Rikin’s organization, Digital Green uses video as a basis for disseminating agricultural practices. Trained individuals from rural communities create videos featuring a progressive farmer explaining effective practices that he/she is using to increase yield. Front-line workers, such as community health workers and agricultural extension agents, from each village are trained to facilitate the screening of these videos among self-help groups and other social organizations. This screening is a starting point for interactive discussions that collects feedback and usage data translating into an on-going iterative cycle of learning. There are almost 30,000 groups attending these dissemination sessions with an adoption rate of 45%. 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.
Digital Green has institutionalized this approach, and broadened the participation of communities by partnering with existing public, private, and civil society organizations that work with rural communities. It works with government agencies like the Ministry of Rural Development in India, and the Ministry of Agriculture in Ethiopia, and has been recognized as the National Support Organization to the Ministry of Rural Development’s National Rural Livelihood Mission. Both partners and non-partner organisations use Digital Green’s videos, technology, and processes made available on an open-source basis. Over 3000 videos have been produced by Digital Green’s network of partners and community members cumulatively engaging more than 400,000 individuals in 5,000 villages across several states in India.
Rikin is in the midst of scaling Digital Green’s approach to regularly engage 500 thousand rural households across 10 thousand villages in India over the next two years (2014-2016). He is also expanding to Ethiopia and Ghana. Although Rikin Gandhi first started Digital Green with a focus on agriculture, the video platform has been leveraged to also support programs on public health, nutrition, financial inclusion, and community mobilization. Digital Green is now also interfacing with radio, mobile and other types of technology platforms.
Note: This was updated in August, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile.