Wednesday 10 April 2013

Quantified success stories, number 60

Here is a very interesting story on the use of video by an organisation called Digital Green to transmit farming practices in India.

I include it here, not because there are quantified benefits to the end users, but because there are quantified re-use statistics and cost reductions.

I quote

Rikin Gandhi (of Microsoft), who had aspired to be an astronaut and studied aeronautical engineering at M.I.T., spent six months in villages in Karnataka experimenting with communication formats — posters, TV shows, locally made videos, public screenings, home screenings. He discovered that if he produced short (8- to 10-minute) videos that featured local farmers (both men and women, as most agricultural work in India is done by women) talking about their experiences and screened them with a facilitator who engaged a group in a discussion — an idea based on a teaching model pioneered by the Stanford researcher Jack Gibbons (pdf) — farmers were highly engaged. Not only did they sit through the videos and ask questions, many took up the practices. Kentaro Toyama, Gandhi’s boss at Microsoft, recalled: “He came back and said, ‘I think I have something that is much more effective than traditional agricultural extension.’ So we wanted to evaluate it.” 
They set up a controlled trial, comparing Gandhi’s approach with a standard “Training and Visit-based” extension approach. Among 1,470 households in 16 villages, they found that it increased adoption of some agricultural practices sevenfold over control villages. The research indicated that the cost to get one farmer to adopt one practice dropped tenfold, from $38 with the traditional approach to $3.70 with the video-based model. 
 Gandhi and his colleagues decided that Digital Green should spin off as an N.G.O. The Gates Foundation provided support. Today, the organization has several funders, works in 2,000 villages in India, 100 in Ethiopia, and 50 in Ghana. Working with a variety of partners, it has produced 2,600 videos that have been viewed by 157,000 farmers. It reports that 41 percent of viewers in the last two months have adopted at least one practice. Gandhi now has 60 colleagues working with him and plans to be reaching 10,000 villages by 2015.

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