Using digital technology to help farmers produce more

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Educating farmers on applicable methods of farming to be able to increase productivity via video demonstrations is one of the ways Digital Green, an NGO, is aiming to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers.
Digital Green uses an innovative digital platform for community engagement to improve lives of rural communities across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization has been operating in Ethiopia for the last three years with financial support of USD 14 million from the Gates Foundation and USAID. Operating in the four key productive areas of the country; Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and SNNPR regions, it currently works with over 250,000 farmers in 71 different woredas.digital-technology
The video dissemination activity has replaced the old household to household awareness creation on different farming tools and methods, that extension workers had to do. Now, with the video dissemination, farmers are gathered at a specific place where they will watch videos, ask questions and share experiences with each other.
“So far we measure the success rate of the program by how many farmers have actually adopted into practice what they have seen on the demonstration videos. The videos have reached over 250,000 farmers and what we have learned is that 50.6 percent of those have adopted and implemented what they have learned,” said Wondwossen Hailu who is the project director.
Looking at the effect of the digital technology on production on three commodities; Teff, wheat and corn, a significant increase on production per hectare of land has been recorded.
“This project is now fully owned by the government and has been adopted as part of the agriculture sector strategy because it has been successful. We have been able to reach so many farmers in a very cost effective and short period of time. Now what we want to focus on is linking the farmer to the market and creating technology to make that easier. That is our next step,” Wondwossen said.
There are also plans to create a digital platform for farmers to connect with each other from the different regions as well as to connect with farmers outside of the country. Digital green also aims at reaching one million farmers with the digital dissemination by the end of the program year.