Seminar on the Role of Technology and Data Science in Accelerating Climate Smart Agriculture Outcomes – Project Report

Digital Green signs MoU with JSLPS to jointly implement ATLAS (Advancing Tribal Livelihoods and Self-reliance) Project in Jharkhand

Across India, small-scale producers (SSPs) lack information and agency to access and negotiate competitive market prices, often receiving as little as 25% of their crops’ final sales price. Gender inequalities around literacy, digital confidence, access, and ownership of information widens the gap further, limiting their potential to build sustainable and resilient livelihoods. This divide only becomes more nuanced and exacerbated within tribal communities and tribal women in particular. Tribal majority areas have the highest poverty levels in the country as livelihoods depend on forests, agriculture, livestock, and wage labor. There has been a major push, supported by the Department of Agriculture and led by the Small Farmer Agri-Business Consortium, and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), to aggregate individual SSPs to FPOs and Farmer Producer Groups to unlock the benefits of group purchases and sales to improve livelihoods. Women-focused and gender-segregated farmer producer groups, in particular, can empower women’s agency, decision-making abilities, and bargaining power thereby increasing income and reducing gender inequities.

On 26th August 2021, Digital Green signed an MoU with Jharkhand State Livelihoods Promotion Society (JSLPS) to jointly implement the ATLAS (Advancing Tribal Livelihoods and Self-reliance) project in the state of Jharkhand over the next 18 months. This project will enhance the capacity, resilience, and self-determination of over 50,000+ tribal women farmers to help improve productivity, understand market value chains, and improve livelihoods. 

Digital Green has been working in partnership with JSLPS since 2014 to introduce and institutionalize the ICT-enabled community-based approach with audio-visual extension in over 15 districts across the state. Over the years, Digital Green has successfully integrated the video-based extension – training over 1500 FLWs on video dissemination and facilitation, and 4 teams on community video production module and production support to develop 60+ community videos. Some thematic support areas have included sustainable agriculture best practices, technical knowledge on over 30 crops and practices, including a handbook CMSA (Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture) practices, and an NPM-based (Non-pesticidal management) annual crop calendar. 

On this partnership, Krishnan Pallassana, Country Director India at Digital Green stated – “Agency and leadership of women farmers is critical to build resilience and sustainability in agriculture. Our partnership with JSLPS, based on our shared vision, will pilot and deliver digital innovations and solutions to empower tribal women farmers.”

ATLAS pairs scalable, high-quality agricultural and post-harvest advisory services and coaching with a mobile application – Kisan Diary Enterprise, an intuitive digital tool that enables transparent data sharing to improve FPO performance and support buyer discovery and aggregation of commodities for sale. These digital advisories on select commodities targeting tribal women farmers will equip them with information to meet market demands. This project will build the capacities of frontline extension agents on video production, and dissemination – our proven community video approach will help women get access to information needed to prepare their harvests and forest products. Further, FPO interventions and leadership capacity building will enhance their skills to manage group dynamics and confidently navigate market opportunities to improve collective sales by tribal women.

Ms Nancy Sahay, IAS, CEO of JSLPS concluded – “JSLPS team is grateful to Digital Green for their support in enhancing the capacity of our women farmers and helping them earn a better livelihood. We look forward to a fruitful engagement with them in the coming days.”

This project is generously funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of an initiative to support racial and ethnic justice globally. Digital Green implements this project with the support of various state and district-level agencies.


Summary of the seminar on the Role of Technology and Data Science in Accelerating Climate Smart Agriculture Outcomes


Digital Green, in collaboration with JEEViKA and RySS, organized a seminar on the “Role of Technology and Data Science in Accelerating Climate Smart Agriculture Outcomes” on 5th August 2021. This event brought together diverse stakeholders, including thought leaders, experts, donors, policymakers, and practitioners to discuss, learn, share and explore opportunities for investing in technology and science-based solutions to scale and deepen the impact of climate-smart agriculture. 

Krishnan Pallassana, Country Director – India for Digital Green, said that the seminar has highlighted the important and catalytic role that technology and data science can play in empowering farmers to strengthen resilience, improve sustainable production and become active partners in the development process. He further added that the ideas and concrete suggestions that have come out of this impactful event can vitalise the sector and Digital Green is committed to work with others to provide best possible support to farmers.

The speakers and panelists in the seminar cautioned that the threat of global warming and climate change to agriculture is real and severe, affecting food systems locally and globally. On one hand farmers are one of the most at-risk groups vulnerable to climate change, and on the other agriculture is a major contributor to the climate crisis generating close to one-fifth of the total greenhouse gas emissions. There is an urgent need to take immediate action in mitigating this issue by investing in climate smart agriculture.  A coordinated action to scale climate smart agriculture will go a long way in ensuring sustainable production, resilience among small scale farmers and contribute to food and nutrition security.

To address these critical issues Digital Green and JEEViKA are partnering to develop a ‘Measurement, Reporting, & Verification (MRV) in Climate Smart Agriculture’ model for small scale producers. Ashu Sikri , Senior Advisor at Digital Green, presented this model, which is an exciting low-cost, scalable farmer-centric technology solution to capture climate-related data, and focuses on production practices that deliver win-win outcomes on economic, environmental, nutrition, and social domains.


The presentation was followed by a keynote address delivered by Shri Abhishek Singh, IAS, CEO, Digital India Corporation, on the significance of Ag-tech and Data Science in achieving India’s SDGs and Climate Action plan. He discussed the Government of India’s goals and plans in advancing digital technology and its relevance to the farming community. “Technology makes information accessible to farmers.” Mr Singh emphasized that the easy exchange of information and creating a repository of knowledge on best practices accessible to each farmer in the country is imperative to improve farmer production, resilience and income. 

JEEViKA in Bihar and RySS in Andhra Pradesh are two such organizations who have been creating a knowledge repository for farmers in partnership with Digital Green. They have been investing in promoting climate-smart, sustainable livelihoods for rural farmers through varied approaches, and have achieved scale and impact over the years. In an insightful spotlight discussion, Rikin Gandhi,  Executive Director, Digital Green, was in conversation with T Vijay Kumar, IAS (Rtd), Executive Vice Chairman, RySS, Balamurugan D, IAS, CEO, JEEViKA, and Dr Purvi Mehta, Asia Lead (Agriculture), BMGF India. They discussed how technology and data science helps in accelerating the integrated approach to sustainable development by putting farmers and farmer controlled data at the centre of climate-smart actions. 

T Vijay Kumar IAS put emphasis on the behavioural change in farmers and how digital technology plays an integral role in capacitating the human connection between farmers, stating thatwe are still looking at digital technology as an extractive technology, but the farmer is not benefitting from it. Technology should empower farmers. He also added the urgency of addressing the climate crisis – we are in a very serious climate crisis, and we have no time to lose. We have to put farmers at the centre of finding rapid scalable solutions. Balamurugan D, IAS echoed this and shared stories from the field, speaking about the power of community and information and its role in getting access to information to empower farmers – “community institutions, and community resource persons play a very important role in getting access to technology. There is no need for each and every person to have a mobile phone to get access to knowledge and information. Dr Purvi Mehta highlighted the innate inequalities – over 70% of climate mitigation strategies are focused on problem identification not solving, and only 2% of climate financing impacts smallholder farmers. She added that farmers have always had their own mitigation strategies through crop diversification, and the value of bringing these lessons from the ground to mainstream discussions in order to prioritize farmer-centric information dissemination.

An important and unique feature of this seminar was the participant-led discussions to draw critical thoughts and ideas from more than 50 delegates who were invited to the seminar. Participants were divided into three working groups. Working group on Agtech and data-driven solutions to mainstream climate-smart agriculture was facilitated by Stewart Collis of Gates Foundation; working group on Enabling ecosystem for technology and data solutions to mainstream climate-smart agriculture was facilitated by Hisham Mundol of Environmental Defense Fund and the working group on Engendering technology for climate smart agriculture was facilitated by Tinni Sawhney of Aga Khan Foundation. Key highlights included: (1) Enabling digital capacities of community structures like SHGs and FPOs to address the needs of women and other marginalized groups, and identifying champion farmers to be at the forefront of advocacy. (2) On-ground data from farmers can inform models and policies on climate-smart agriculture. Moreover, valuation of data is important so that it can incentivize farmers to collect and share their data. (3) Enabling digital capacities of community structures like SHGs and FPOs to address the needs of women and other marginalized groups; and (4) To address a crisis as complex as climate change, technological and data-driven solutions have to be simple but not simplistic. Discussions around climate smart agriculture and generating social capital have to take into account farmer incomes, social development indicators such as nutrition, as well as the climate benefits.

Ending on a powerful note was the closing keynote by J Satyanarayana, IAS (Rtd), Chief Advisor, C4IR-WEF. The Government of India has been formulating ambitious plans to build a strong data-centric approach to agriculture including initiatives like IDEA and AgriStack that can potentially transform the way AgData is managed and applied to advance agriculture productivity. J Satyanarayana shared his vision for how the AgData centric transformation could impact on-ground initiatives on climate smart agriculture around reducing emissions and building resilience. Though there have been emerging concerns on issues like data privacy and consent, J Satyanarayana highlighted the centrality of farmers owning and controlling their own data as a key principle in data transformation in the country. There is an urgent need now to work on a structure that protects the interests of the farmers. 

This event was a coming together of the extended Digital Green community. As Rikin Gandhi, Executive Director of Digital Green aptly put it – we need to think about how technology can enable farmer voice and agency, not extract from them so that farmers are at the focal point of being able to leverage digital technologies for their own and to be able to connect with their own networks.

This is just a glimpse to the incredible insights and learnings that came out of the seminar. To watch the full recording, please visit: or watch below. 

The Role of Technology & Data Science in Climate Smart Agriculture

The threat of global warming and climate change to agriculture is real and severe, affecting food systems locally and globally. Among the hundreds of millions who are vulnerable to the impact of climate change, an estimated 120 Million farmers are perhaps one of the most at-risk groups. On the other hand, agriculture is also a major contributor to the climate crisis generating close to one-fifth of the total greenhouse gas emissions.

The need of the hour is for governments, businesses, philanthropies, and civil society to take immediate action in mitigating this issue by investing in climate-smart agriculture.

Digital Green, in collaboration with Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society, and RySS, is bringing together diverse stakeholders in the sector – thought leaders, experts, donors, practitioners, and policymakers – for a seminar on “The Role of Technology & Data Science in Climate Smart Agriculture.” This will be a platform to deliberate, share, and explore opportunities for collective action in data and technology-led solutions to drive scale and deepen the impact of climate smart agriculture.

Please join us on Thursday, 5th August, from 7:00-8:30 PM (IST) on our Youtube Live: