How Innovation and Technology Advance Gender Equity

Women play an important role in agriculture, natural resource management, and food security in Ethiopia, but they have disproportionate access to extension services, in addition to the cultural factors that prevent them from joining traditional farmer groups. To ensure women’s economic, social, and political empowerment, Digital Green started implementing the self-help group (SHG) model in the Advancing Conservation, Agriculture, and Livelihoods project funded by the Packard Foundation in Jimma, Ethiopia in 2019. As part of the project, Digital Green organized and trained 40 self-help groups with an average membership of 25, totaling 1000 women. SHG members were provided with digital extension services on various topics, including vegetable production, animal forage preparation, and conservation farming practices. 

Birtukan Yalew, chairperson of the Bikiltu SHG in Gera woreda said: “Digital Green helped us a lot. We were established as a self-help group and started working on planting vegetables. At first, we didn’t have land to use. We used to plant the vegetables on rented land, which affected the profits we used to get. But now, we have enough support from the government and are provided with land, which gives us better results in terms of capacity and profits. We are also planning to engage in honey production as well.”  


Revolving loans have also enabled participants to invest in new income generating activities, further contributing to group profits and savings. Rotating facilitator and officer roles have boosted members’ self-confidence. Members believe they have gained respect in both the village and at home with increased levels of shared decision-making. With members each saving 10-15 ETB (0.25 USD) weekly, accumulated savings now total ETB 563,000 (USD 10,690). Prior to joining the SHGs, only a few members had access to loans from local microfinance institutions and now several group members have opened their own bank accounts. The SHGs have also saved over ETB 211,000 (USD 4,000) to support each other during difficult times. The total capital for all the groups now exceeds ETB 3.5 million (USD 66,475). 

With the aim of digitization and seamless management of Digital Green’s SHG Operations, we work to improve the digital literacy of the women engaged in self-help groups by providing the group leaders with smartphones and training on digital tools. The digitization process enables the groups with digital history created for members to increase saving coordination and transparency of their transactions including weekly contributions, loan repayments, and other group interactions within their SHG, which also contributes to household resilience and transformational development at the household and community levels.

Currently, Digital Green is implementing phase two of the Advancing Conservation, Agriculture, and Livelihood project (August 2022- July 2025) targeting to reach 1,450 women through the establishment of 58 new women’s SHGs while continuing to build up the existing 40 women’s SHGs. 

Gender Integration in Digital Green’s Work

Agriculture is a family business in Ethiopia, as it is in most countries. Women farmers conduct up to 75% of farm work, accounting for 70% of family food production in Ethiopia. However, women produce up to 35% less than male farmers because they have less access to extension services and inputs such as seeds and fertilizer.[1] This is because agricultural extension services have traditionally been geared toward males and development groups (25-35 farmers organized by the government in their neighborhoods for extension and agricultural development services) are made up of “heads of family,” who are predominantly men. In order to address this, the Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia, in collaboration with other non-governmental organizations, is aiming to close the gender gap in agricultural extension services. As part of this endeavor, Digital Green is developing women-only development groups to boost women’s access to agricultural extension services. Furthermore, Digital Green’s video extension approach aims to close the gender gap in farm labor and decision-making by better understanding gender roles in farm labor and decision-making and ensuring that the structure, design, and delivery of video extension services meet the needs of both men and women.

To better integrate the gender dynamics in the project districts and better incorporate them in the video extension approach, Digital Green is collaborating with Tanager[2] through the IGNITE[3] project, a collaboration of Tanager, Laterite and 60 Decibels.  IGNITE supports Digital Green’s effort in increasing women’s access to agriculture extension services and gender integration across project activities.

A qualitative research conducted by Laterite as part of research initiatives of IGNITE titled “Exploring Intra-Household Decision-Making and Best Practice Adoption Outcomes of Women-Targeted Digital Extension”[4] shows that women and men have distinct gender roles in wheat farming. Traditionally, men lead on several farming activities like land preparation and sowing, but women and children provide essential support for these activities, while women also lead on others. Men tend to dominate land preparation, sowing, purchasing inputs such as fertilizer or herbicide, and selling the crop. Men are also heavily involved in harvesting and threshing (with support from women and children) and contribute to weeding. Men are rarely involved in support activities like fetching water or preparing food.

Women play a supporting role in almost all farming activities and take the lead in some. Crucial supporting roles, like fetching water for chemicals and fertilizer, monitoring leaves for rust, clearing land of debris, availing fertilizer, and preparing food for all laborers are led by women. Women also take lead on post-harvest storage of wheat. Together with men and children, women harvest and weed as well, and prepare the threshing floor.

Figure 1:  division of farm labor[5]

Despite their distinct farm labor role, nearly all participants agree that land belongs to the household as a whole and is not owned by any individual. There are also women who owned wheat plots independently, such as households headed by single mothers or widows.

Besides gender mainstreaming, Digital Green is also focusing on women-specific activities, such as establishing Self Help Groups (SHGs) and repurposing a women’s development army organized by the government to tackle different health issues. According to the gender analysis conducted for the Digital Agriculture Advisory Service (DAAS) study, although women make up a large portion of the agricultural labor force, their contribution is underestimated[6], and as a result, they do not receive the necessary agricultural extension services. Moreover, their decision-making ability in the household and on the farm is limited by stereotypical social norms. To address these issues, Digital Green has formed 4900 Women Development Groups, totaling 120,714 members, and thus far has reached 94,037 of them through video-based extension services.

Digital Green is also challenging the stereotyped gender norms through the videos used for advisory services recognizing women’s roles in agriculture and promoting shared decision-making. Whenever it is feasible, we cast female farmers as role models in the videos. Moreover, Digital Green also produces women-specific videos that focus on the activities women play on the farm predominantly. The result of the qualitative study shows that Women farmers appreciated the presence of women in the video and see them as role models to follow. They also spent more time than men praising the video sessions, mentioning that they are relevant, and timely and giving them great motivation to improve as farmers.

Furthermore, Digital Green has formed SHGs, voluntary organizations of 20-25 individuals homogeneous in terms of socioeconomic background and gender, who get together to solve shared problems and enhance their level of living. SHG involvement is significant because it contributes to women’s economic, social, and political empowerment through increases in income, savings, and/or loan repayments, and skills after women are exposed to group support and accrue social capital through frequent meetings. Accordingly, under the DAAS project, Digital Green has formed 66 SHGs with a total of 1650 members providing technical and financial support to the group members. Digital Green also provides training on the SHG approach for Woreda staff from the Women and children affairs office, Agriculture Office, and Micro and Small Enterprise Office. The training helped the trained staff to provide the necessary support and follow-ups for the SHGs. “The SHGs approach is increasingly recognized as a community development strategy to fight poverty, promote grassroots democracy and build social capital. The approach was introduced to Ethiopia from India in 2002 and has enabled numerous low-income women to pull themselves out of poverty, exercise local governance and revitalize social solidarity.”[7]

The DAAS project is generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.







[1] USAID, Empowering Women Through Agricultural Development in Ethiopia, 2017

[2]  Tanager is an international non-profit organization established in 1993 and an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA.

[3] Impacting Gender and Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange for Agriculture (IGNITE) program, is a five-year investment in a technical assistance mechanism to support African institutions to integrate gender and nutrition into their agriculture interventions and way of doing business. IGNITE is implemented by Tanager, Laterite and 60 Decibels.

[4] Exploring Intra-Household Decision-Making and Best Practice Adoption Outcomes of Women-Targeted Digital Extension

[5] Note: the roles displayed are community normative roles for women and men, as expressed by the farmer in the focus group discussions. However these differ on an individual household basis, especially differ for female-headed households.

[6] The role of women in the agricultural economy in Ethiopia: the case of Aira woreda in western Wollega zone, Oromiya regional state, Moa Alemayehu, International Journal of Sociology and Anthropology Research, 2019

[7] Yntiso, Gebre. “The Self-Help Groups Approach in Ethiopia: Promising Achievements and Formidable Challenges.” Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 48, 2015, pp. 33–60. JSTOR, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Opportunities in using data to strengthen FPOs: DG’s Field Visit to Guntur

During the May cross-country visit, teams from India, the USA, Ethiopia, and Kenya came together to learn more about how we are moving towards making our vision of digitized farmer networks (DFN) a reality. With our field immersion experiences, this was also an opportunity to interact with farmers and key stakeholders and learn more about Digital Green’s work in India.

In Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, our field visits were divided into two factions – this article focuses on the use of digital data collection tools and chili quality assaying. To read about our digital extension visit, please visit this blog.

After a warm welcome, the team was introduced to 4 Farmer Producer Organizations, namely – Akulaganapavaram HFPCL, Bellamkonda HFPCL, Palanadu HFPCL, and Sri Lakshmi Chowdeswari HFPCL. One of the most apparent observations to the team was the gender disparity in these FPOs – among the several FPOs present, there was just one woman board member.
Chilli crop cultivation has always been male-dominated. Over the years, chili cultivation has also become very input-intensive which also indicates that the risks involved in growing chili crops have increased significantly as well, especially with climate conditions, pest management, etc. In Andhra Pradesh, Digital Green has been sharing targeted advisories with farmers under the E-Mircha Project which works with 10,000 chili farmers in Andhra Pradesh to improve chili production quality and connect them with buyers.

Stakeholders present at the meeting also highlighted various schemes that have been rolled out in the past few years to support FPOs off the ground. This includes providing working capital for assets like offices, furniture, computers, and even CEO’s salary for the initial 3 years. In addition, the Department of Horticulture has supported subsidy schemes that have supported farmers in cultivating high-quality chili crops. There is also a Chilli Polyhouse that is an initiative of the Department of Horticulture and JICA, in which 15000 chili plants were being grown on 1000 acres of land. However, the subsidy that was to be disbursed within 15 days took 15 months which caused serious cash flow problems for the FPO. 

FPOs expressed the need for training on ventures such as primary processing of chillis, bakery, and other food processing units, to forge alternative sources of income. They particularly highlighted that despite the financial and non-financial support that they have received from the government, and private sector, surviving with day-to-day operational costs has been a major challenge.

Samunnati, an open agri network that supports smallholder farmers with agri-commerce and agri-finance solutions, also has a prominent presence in Guntur. They have rolled out many initiatives to support the FPOs in building their financial capacities. During the field meeting, they illustrated how they recruited graduates and diploma holders in agriculture to guide CEOs in preparing financial documentation and support them in the use of the business management software that Samunnati provided free of cost for the initial year of working. Samunnati also has features such as robocalling farmers to provide information on market prices and local weather conditions, and an inventory and sales dashboard.

Mr. Naveen Kumar, a representative from the Department of Horticulture also mentioned the long-standing partnership with Digital Green and how they have utilized community videos to drive change in the farming community. As many farmers in the area are dependent on cash crops, he recognized that DG’s community videos could help shift the focus to horticulture crops so that farmers’ incomes can be diversified, and hence made more resilient to the shocks and drops of the practice.

AgNext, a partner under the E-Mircha Project that supports quality assaying also demonstrated their process of generating a chili quality report which contains information on both physical and chemical parameters. After the collection of samples, chilies are individually placed in a Visio Box to take clear images which are then analyzed using a mobile application. Other tests are also done to assess moisture content, aflatoxin level, etc. If you’re wondering how long this process is, it takes 15 minutes.

DG’s solution, Kisan Diary Enterprise which is an application that supports FPOs with buyer discovery, and aggregation of commodities for sale through transparent data sharing, has also helped these FPOs immensely in demand aggregation and generating a consolidated report of inventory, and predicting the sale amount much in the advance. This solution helped transition from Excel sheets that would need manual inputs to a platform where even extension videos could be uploaded and live-streamed during village meetings which were particularly helpful in combating chili thrips last year.

Altogether, this was an insightful visit for Digital Green as we navigate the opportunities of the new strategy. What stands out is the prominent role that DG can play in strengthening the capacities of FPOs and their various stakeholders by making their business processes more structured using business plans, defined roles, and governing bodies that divide and distribute roles including data collection, data entry, sale of inputs, inventory management, etc.

Recognizing the requirement of capital, DG’s solution, KDE could also be developed further to have a more elaborate buyer interface that focuses on market linkages to be more beneficial to the FPOs. Their cash flow suffers mainly due to delayed payments and difficult-to-get subsidies. Moreover, there is also a scope of integrating data required by the various platforms that FPOs use through the data wallets and data visualizations to give an upper hand to FPOs in negotiations during the sale of produce. Since chili is an all-out male-dominated commodity, especially in production and marketing, there is also scope for involving women farmers in the processing. DG can facilitate video dissemination on primary and secondary processing of chilies to achieve this.

Digital Green’s Field Visit in Guntur: Digital Extension & Opportunities to Explore

May was an exciting month for us at Digital Green. After more than 2 years, our teams across India, Ethiopia, USA, and Kenya huddled together in Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh and Bengaluru to make our vision of digitized farmer networks a reality, and discuss key themes emerging from our new strategy going forward.

This visit was marked by huge enthusiasm, as this presented a unique opportunity for teams to interact with one another, and to also witness our work in action in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, Digital Green implements two programs – 

Tech-Aided Resilient Agriculture (TARA), funded by the Walmart Foundation, improves the resilience and livelihoods of smallholder farmers with the efficient delivery of targeted, relevant, and timely agricultural advisories, and improves access to markets and market information. The program will reach 75,000 farmers, 30% of this number would consist of women farmers.

Enhancing Markets, Income & Resilience for Chili Farmers in Andhra Pradesh (E-Mircha), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to test, evaluate and demonstrate a scalable and replicable digital model that integrates appropriate technology tools and platforms to deliver timely, high-quality advisory messages to chilli farmers in Andhra Pradesh and connect them to buyers. The aim is to improve the production quality of at least 10,000 chilli farmers.

On the 2nd of May, teams were divided into two groups to visit separate locations – one focusing on the digital extension and the other focusing on the use of digital data collection tools and chilli quality assaying. This blog focuses on the learnings and observations of the digital extension field visit; stay tuned for a blog about the digital data collection and quality assaying field visit. 

The digital extension team visited the Ganapavaram and Aakulaganapavaram farmer producer organizations (FPOs) in Naagireddypalem village, an hour away from Guntur city. Farmers and extension agents gathered to share their experiences on how advisories received through video extension and chatbots have changed their outlook on their natural farming practices and have helped them to lead healthier lives.

We were introduced to the 9 principles of APCNF (Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural  Farming), which promotes sustainable farming practices. Natural farming, we learned, has become a way of life for these farmers and not necessarily just based on their livelihoods but also stay healthy. Vemula Padmavati, a woman farmer proudly proclaimed “as a farmer, if we are not growing healthy and staying healthy, how will all of you eat healthy and stay healthy?”. Model farmers like herself have been the change agents among their communities.

What is to note is the digital literacy amongst the members of these FPOs, and the high participation from women farmers who spoke of how cost-effective this practice has been for them, and how they came to know about it in the first place. However, while the high participation of women farmers was clear, there is still the question of how much decision-making power they have. Video extension has played an instrumental role in the shift towards natural farming, especially to get the buy-in from male counterparts in farming families. Now, these farmers are open to learning about new practices – a continued practice-driven forward through the Chatbot advisories that they receive on Whatsapp.

We only need to share our location to get 3-minute videos that are specific to our crops at any given point of time,” one farmer shared. During the pandemic, farmers’ digital connectivity increased as they also made a Facebook page for themselves that now consists of around 20,000 farmers in the area. There is quite a need for market-based information, particularly about prices and buyers, one challenge that they are still facing is the lack of price regulation for produce that is grown using natural farming practices. As these farmers are all well connected with access to smartphones, the Facebook group that they have created for themselves has been used to connect directly with consumers to obtain better prices for their produce. This provides the opportunity to build on our current solutions to add market and price-based information in the hands of farmers to help them with data-backed decision-making.

Although the farmers that we visited in Andhra Pradesh were well connected and high in their digital literacy levels, we recognize that this is not the case for farmers that we work with across India or even farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya, where Digital Green also works. What we learned and gathered in our discussions was that a multi-channel approach should be taken into Digital Green’s future course of action and that there are also opportunities to influence partners to move towards gender inclusivity.

Using gender analysis to ensure the inclusion of women in agricultural extension services

The Digital Agricultural Advisory Services (DAAS) project aims to help farmers adopt relevant customized advisories delivered via digital channels while strengthening extension systems using a combination of technology solutions and capacity building, systems change, and partnership. In order to identify and respond to the barriers that women face in accessing technology and extension services, DAAS undertook a gender analysis to generate information on gender gaps, needs, constraints, and opportunities of women and men in the access, use, and adoption of digital advisory services. The study covered eight woredas in four regions of Ethiopia. 


What did we learn from the gender analysis? 

The majority of households are headed by men. Decision-making patterns show that women make fewer household decisions compared to men, who make major decisions. Women have more diverse income sources compared to men, but men have the upper hand in determining the household budget allocation. Apart from the women-only groups, women’s participation in membership and leadership positions in other development or social groups is minimal. 

Women engage less in agriculture advisory services. Women do not adopt agricultural technologies and practices as quickly as men, citing the need to receive the approval of their husbands before proceeding. Furthermore, women are considered supporters in the productive activities and are represented by their husbands. Development Agents find many challenges in reaching women farmers, including the uneasiness of husbands when a male Development Agent provides extension support to their wives and women’s heavier workloads that mean they have less time to participate in extension activities. 


What can we do differently to include women in extension activities? 

There are numerous ways we can ensure women receive agriculture advisory services. Some examples include: 

     – Support women access and use digital technologies;

     – Ensure that agriculture advisory services align with women’s time availability;

     – Provide access to inputs to enhance agricultural production; 

     – Introduce technologies that ease women’s workload; 

     – Conduct training that considers women’s role in agriculture and society;

     – Create an enabling environment for women to develop and own assets; and

     – Provide assertiveness training for women in male headed households to boost their participation in household decision-making.  

The gender analysis is guiding programming decisions. The DAAS project is operationalizing the recommendations from the gender analysis through the development of a gender strategy. 

The Digital Agricultural Advisory Services (DAAS) project is led by Digital Green in partnership with Precision Agriculture for Development (PXD) and driven by the interests and priorities of the Ethiopian Government. The Impacting Gender and Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) project, implemented by Tanager in partnership with Laterite and 60 Decibels, led the gender analysis, which was conducted with support from the AGILE consulting firm. DAAS is implemented with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Cooperation Development Office. 

Digital Green and KALRO partner to improve the data sharing ecosystem in Kenyan agriculture

We are honored to announce a new partnership with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to improve the agricultural data ecosystem in Kenya. KALRO will serve as a “steward” for FarmStack, a software tool for secure, controlled data sharing. Through FarmStack, KALRO will build a digital community committed to benefitting Kenyan farmers that will enable private, public, and nonprofit organizations to tailor products and services for farmers, ultimately increasing their productivity and resilience. 

FarmStack is an open-source software protocol which provides data connectors to enable secure peer to peer data transfer and the provision of data usage controls. Digital Green has active FarmStack applications with project partners in Ethiopia and India, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Transformation Agency in Ethiopia, and we also are supporting live applications with the FAO’s digital services platform as well as a number of other partners.

Figure 1. A FarmStack data sharing network is orchestrated by a “steward” which is a nodal agency with a deep network of partners and the inherent incentives to improve the lives of farmers in their jurisdiction.

In Kenya we are working with KALRO to enable their partners to securely share data across the agriculture ecosystem. We’re currently evaluating initial use cases for FarmStack that can demonstrate the value of data integration and showcase how partners can collaborate to improve their services.

Learn more at and feel free to contact us at Digital Green at farmstack at if you’d like to explore opportunities to utilize FarmStack in your work.

>> For an introduction to FarmStack, view this video

>> For a demo of the FarmStack user interface, view this video

>> To access the Digital Green GitHub page, click here

Delivering customized and climate smart dairy cattle advisory services in Ethiopia

This blog outlines the Digital Agriculture Advisory Services (DAAS) project’s approach to climate smart livestock advisories. The project is implemented by Digital Green, Precision Development, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in partnership with the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry or Agriculture and Agricultural Transformation Agency, and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Tsegaye Ayana, pictured on the left with her dairy cows, lives in the Amhara region of Ethiopia with her husband and seven children. In addition to her cows, Tsegaye also raises oxen and sheep and farms maize. She credits extension services with teaching her how to better care for her animals, and notes that “I learned how to feed dairy cows to increase their milk production. My family works hard and we are able to earn more income from dairy activities. There are customers who buy milk from us and with this, I earn a 6,500 ETB per month income.”

Tsegaye is one of many small-scale producers turning toward livestock as a growing source of income. In Ethiopia the population of cattle, the most popular type of livestock, increased by ~50% from 2004 – 2015 and the total number of livestock owning households increased by over 5 million during that same period. As an important source of income, nutrition, and household resilience, livestock ownership is expected to continue growing as small-scale producers aim to diversify their incomes in response to a changing climate which increasingly affects their ability to rely on annual crop productionThese trends represent significant economic opportunities for farmers and show that livestock production should be a priority investment area for governments, non-governmental organizations, and agribusiness actors; however, there is another important aspect to consider – emissions. Globally, livestock production contributes an estimated 14.5% of total GHG emissions, primarily through methane emissions accounting for an equivalent of 7.1 gigatonnes of CO2-eq per annum. In Sub-Saharan Africa, on a per unit basis, milk production is a high contributor to GHG emissions primarily due to enteric fermentation and lack of manure management.

Simple solutions come with complex implementation challenges

There are many practices which can reduce emissions and improve productivity in small-scale livestock production systems. Improving general calf and cow health, enhancing genetic stock through artificial insemination, and providing more digestible fodder all contribute to reduced emissions. Some climate-smart practices can also greatly improve livestock productivity, which is an immediate co-benefit seen by the farmers themselves. Additionally,  in accordance with the DAAS project’s climate and nature strategy, we also consider the natural resource conservation or nature improvement value of the practices promoted. Within the DAAS project we have focused our dairy value chain efforts on some of the most impactful dairy husbandry practices, found within the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture’s package of practices, for reducing GHG emissions which also offer clear and immediate co-benefits to the farmer. Additionally, some of the practices promoted lead to clear natural resource conservation outcomes. The table below outlines the key dairy husbandry practices promoted within the DAAS project, the mitigation pathway and/or nature positive value, and the co-benefits seen by the farmers.

Although we know the practices in the table above are effective, there are complex implementation challenges which must be addressed in order to effectively promote them. The predominant environment where most small-scale livestock production happens is highly variable. In Ethiopia, despite the large  number of government Development Agents delivering crop and livestock training services, the reality is that localized conditions, variability in access to goods and services, and language and structural barriers to information dissemination and uptake make the delivery of these solutions difficult. There is a need to develop information pathways which complement the ability of the extension system to provide more tailored advisory services at a larger scale while capturing data on uptake and results of those interventions.*Hypothesis within the DAAS project

Utilizing technology to customize solutions and overcome barriers

We believe that digital solutions can help overcome implementation and dissemination challenges. Within the DAAS project we are working closely with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Transformation Agency to build digital solutions which enhance the ability of the extension system to deliver customized advisory services to small-scale producers. Depending on the value chain or solution being developed, the level of customization can vary from simply ensuring that a recorded phone message is delivered in the right language for a geographic area, to precisely calculating the fertilizer needs for wheat production at the village level. Any level of customization depends on the successful utilization of data and dissemination of information; we are addressing these requirements by developing FarmStack, an open source protocol which facilitates the secure exchange of data to inform advisories, and strengthening digital dissemination channels, such as the ATA’s 8028 IVR push line, to complement the existing government extension package. We are also building a farmer registry and work management application which will be deployed at the Development Agent level via tablets. In short, we are bringing together disparate data sets and filling the existing gaps in those data sets to develop more informed advisory content and then delivering that content via digital channels.

Delivering customized, climate smart advisories to millions of farmers

Within the livestock sector, we’re piloting a number of customized advisories based on the practices outlined in the table above. One key channel is a government managed phone information service (called 8028) which farmers can call from any phone in Ethiopia. Through the 8028 service we’ve been able to reach a significant number of small-scale livestock producers with a variety of content and we are continuing to pilot new use cases through these channels. As shown in the chart below, there is relatively high demand for dairy and beef cattle content from farmers using the 8028 hotline. We are also using this service to “push” advisories directly to farmers via recorded voice messages, which allows for a much higher degree of customization by targeting specific farmers based on predefined criteria such as location, type of livestock, or availability of services in their area.

Number of users accessing livestock content via the Government of Ethiopia’s 8028 service from July – September 2021

The push call advisory interventions are tailored to the individual farmer’s language and location and focus on the following:

  1. Artificial insemination: This is targeted at AI technicians and dairy farmers in their area in order to: (i) Improve AI technicians efficiency through reminders of the key steps of AI service provision; (ii) increase farmers demand for AI services; and (iii) inform farmers how to identify when the proper time is for AI services (i.e. heat identification);
  2. Calf and cow management: This promotes key practices for improving calf and cow mortality rates during pregnancy and after giving birth; and
  3. Location based content: This use case will utilize location data to tailor general messages about feeding practices which are timed to the seasonal availability of feed stocks and local conditions and can greatly reduce enteric fermentation. For example if a farmer in Oromia has heifers and sells milk then the feed advisory to optimize the health and reduce the emissions from the cows in March may be different than another farmer who is raising steers for plowing in SNNPR.

We are actively developing a methodology for measuring the adoption of practices promoted via the 8028 channel which will support our ability to quantify the economic and climate related impacts of these advisories. Early phone survey data indicates that farmers who use the inbound 8028 line often understand and retain the information they learn, but further studies are needed to definitively determine the adoption outcomes from this service. When the final iteration of the adoption methodology is complete and tested, we will release that and update these materials accordingly.

A pathway to scaling climate smart dairy cattle practices in Ethiopia

The DAAS project’s approach to reaching scale, with a target of 3.5 million farmers across all value chains by 2024, is threefold:

  1. Proof of concept: Develop customized use cases to demonstrate the value of data integration and customization
  2. System strengthening: Improve digital channels and tools, including video enabled extension, IVR technology, and digitizing extension processes
  3. Catalyzing the ecosystem: Build an ecosystem of actors utilizing FarmStack to share and combine data to further developed future advisories

What we aim to achieve here is to demonstrate how data sharing and digital tools can complement and strengthen existing extension systems in a scalable and repeatable way which can grow with the dairy sector. By prioritizing climate-smart advisory content and targeting the dairy value chain we are supporting farmers to increase their incomes while mitigating emissions from increased dairy production in Ethiopia.

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.


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:

Catalyzing the Data Sharing Ecosystem – Introducing FarmStack

For the past fifteen years Digital Green has been collaborating with government extension agencies to digitally transform their services for smallholder farmers. Through our extension video approach we’ve reached over 2.3 million farmers and over 46,000 government extension workers. Along the way our work has generated a lot of data, and we’ve always used that data to improve our work, help our farmers, and expand our business. A few years back, we started to ask ourselves some key questions — How do we get the data that’s helping us back into the hands of farmers and organizations so it can help them too? How many other organizations like ours are holding data with untapped potential? And finally, how can we catalyze a data sharing ecosystem to put the potential of that data to work for farmers? This thought led us to understand that the way forward was to develop a decentralized data sharing protocol to foster coordination across the ag ecosystem while protecting privacy, security, and control over how data is used. We call this protocol FarmStack. 

FarmStack is an open-source protocol which powers the secure transfer of data. 

Today we’re announcing the release of FarmStack, an open-source protocol which powers the secure transfer of data. FarmStack enables secure and controlled exchange of data which can inform tailored solutions for farmers, greatly reduce costs for organizations, and expand the reach of existing tools. When organizations want to unlock new services and solutions by sharing and combining data they need to be confident that personal identifiable data, proprietary information, or other sensitivities are not exposed or used inappropriately. When farmers give consent to use their data, they want to be confident that it will be used only for the purposes they have given permission for and not shared with other parties without their knowledge. FarmStack enables these solutions. 

Watch this video for a preview of our managed connector features

With significant investments from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, we’ve developed FarmStack as a free and open-source solution to enable peer to peer data sharing with customizable and enforceable data protections via a locally hosted and user friendly interface. Because FarmStack is a protocol, it can be connected with existing applications and platforms and easily integrated into an organization’s existing technology stack.

This release of FarmStack is the first milestone in a broader vision of catalyzing the data sharing ecosystem. Future releases will include managed connectors, data discovery and visualization tools, and will be accompanied by a growing community of FarmStack users who are taking our open source code and building their own custom solutions on top of it. We invite you to join the FarmStack community today and work with us to build a more open, confident, and productive data sharing ecosystem. For more information start here.