How Video-Based Extension Transformed Wheat Farming in Bonga, Ethiopia


A remarkable transformation is unfolding among a dedicated group of wheat farmers in the lush landscapes of Bonga, Ethiopia. These farmers, who had been tilling the land together for nearly a decade, found themselves at the heart of a revolutionary change brought about by a collaboration between Digital Green, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Ministry of Agriculture—a collaboration that brought video-based extension service to farmers, designed to empower them with practical, actionable knowledge.

Traditionally, these farmers depended on conventional extension services for agricultural guidance. Often crowded and overwhelming, these sessions covered everything from land preparation to harvesting in a single sitting, leaving many farmers feeling lost in a sea of information. The one-size-fits-all approach failed to engage them fully or address their specific challenges, leading to a disconnect between the training provided and its practical application on their farms.

Introducing the video-based extension service marked a new beginning for these farmers. Tailored agricultural videos were introduced covering crucial aspects of wheat farming, like land preparation, row sowing, and urea application. The farmers, now equipped with the knowledge presented in their local language and at their own pace, embraced these new practices with open arms.

Beyond the Fields: A Community Transformed

The videos were more than just instructional content; they were a source of inspiration. By demonstrating best practices in an engaging and relatable format, the videos motivated the farmers to try new techniques and improve their farming practices. The result was a collective cultivation of 17.25 hectares of wheat land, following the best practices showcased in the videos with precision and care.

In July of 2023, fueled by the guidance from the videos, the farmers invested significantly in quality inputs and embarked on a season of farming with high hopes. Their goal was ambitious yet achievable: to harvest 30 quintals of wheat per hectare, translating to a total expected yield of 517.5 quintals. When sold at the market rates, this yield brought them substantial revenue above what they normally received, transforming their livelihoods.

The benefits of Digital Green’s video-based extension went beyond increased yields and potential earnings. The videos fostered a sense of community among the farmers, encouraging collaborative work and shared learning. They provided a platform for farmers to reflect on their technical mistakes and build upon their existing wheat farming experience, enhancing their skills and confidence.

The success story of Bonga’s wheat farmers is a powerful endorsement of the video-based extension service. Ato Alalo Abebe, the local District Agriculturalist, praised the approach for its effectiveness in overcoming the limitations of traditional training methods. The farmers themselves, reinvigorated by their success, are eager for more. They look forward to accessing additional agricultural advisory services and are keen to continue their journey of learning and growth.


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