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ICT4D: some lessons from field experience presented at the Rural Knowledge Movement at the Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai in October 2012

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  • The issue of protecting tree seedlings from animals and the innovation of daubing them with a mixture based on liquified cow dung.
  • Farmers’ Information NeedsInfo to make a decision = What can I grow on this soil, this year, where can I sell at what priceDoubt clearingIs my crop of the right quality? What is best quality Dynamic: It comprises information useful for decision making at a particular point of time. For example weather, market price, input availability etc. This information has to be hyper-localized, available in real-time and on demand. Dynamic information does not need much re-purposing or validation and has no or little archive value. It is most suited for remote delivery through mobile channels.Static: It relates to knowledge gaps in terms of modern farming practices, plant protection, animal health and production etc. These are static in nature, i.e. do not change frequently over time and do not need to be hyper-localized. However, this information needs to be re-purposed and validated before it can be disseminated. This information involves significant amount of learning from farmers’ side, as well as, expert assistance to clear doubts through help line and contact with field agents.
  • SoftwareCOCO, Connect Online | Connect Offline COCO is a highly sophisticated data input system that forms the base of Digital Green's software stack. The creation of this system was inspired by persistent and at times debilitating issues at the field level, specifically technical issues in gathering and storing information. To alleviate these problems, Digital Green's software team conceived of a highly flexible and robust alternative that sought to make information gathering and input at Digital Green less error prone, fast, and resilient to persistent data connectivity issues in remote locations. Most applicable to NGOs with a sizeable field operation, COCO's singular unique selling proposition is the ability to take the application offline in low and limited bandwidth locations, with uninterrupted usage in the browser. COCO is designed to support up to 100,000 users located anywhere in the world and only requires internet connectivity whenever a user is ready to synchronize their data with our global repository. Built as a robust standalone application in the Internet browser, COCO requires no additional software installation or maintenance. The system is designed in an open-source, customizable framework that can be deployed without the need of IT/engineering staff. COCO is architected as a Java web-framework, similar to and in proximate feature parity with popular frameworks such as Django or Ruby on Rails. The core of COCO's framework comprises of a variety of open source technologies. In light of achieving maximum speed as a browser application, COCO is developed using the GWT 2.0 (Google Web Toolkit) Java-Javascript framework. To enable offline mode, COCO employs the use of Google Gears, a browser plug-in that provides a persistent Sqlite database to store data relationally and a local cache to access all requisite static content. For deployment in offline mode, a compiled Javascript file is generated and made available in Google Gear's local cache for access by the browser; COCO in online mode operates as any other web application. More details on our architecture will be available later.
  • PP_Ficarelli_28.10.12_MSSRF

    1. 1. Changes and Challenges in the Integration of Video-led Rural Extension Pier Paolo Ficarelli 8th Convention of Grameen Gyan Abhiyan Chennai, 28th October , 2012
    2. 2. The Digital Green Extension Approach 2
    3. 3. Strengthening Capacity of Rural Service Organisations Digital Green works in partnership with NGOs/Rural Development Organisations ready to engage with innovation and digital technologies to increase impact of the delivery of extension. Digital Green service suite: Partnership Agreement Shared responsibilities with partners, target to be reached, seed funding Training & Capacity building Skill development of CSPs and anchor persons for video production& video screening facilitation, Quality Assurance Standards for video production, process facilitation and practice adoptions Monitoring & Feedback Monitoring video screenings, video topic preferences, adoptions, Q&A on mobile platform Video content Development & Management Video story-boards, validation and repository management IT/ICT Support & Data management Storing & indexing, digital technologies maintenance and upgrading 3
    4. 4. Digital Green ICT Proposition for Quality ExtensionHardware cheap and robust enough to suit Software innovative application to monitorgravel roads! field work and farmer adoptions in real time! Pocket Camcorder COCO HD videos E-bay available @ $100-200 Pin wireless microphone 9 V batteries E-bay available @ $30-50 Statistical Analysis Pico projector $100 device Li-ion batteries FARMERBOOK Available on the Indian market USB- Mini Speakers AAA Rechargeable batteries 4
    5. 5. Results of Digital Green ApproachIn less than 3 years, many results have been achieved by partnerswith the support of a still young and fast growing organisationFarmers/SHGsReduction of production costs and increased yieldsLearning and exposure to new practices/ideas (e.g. bio-fertilisers, multi-cropping)Videos provide exact information e.g. quantities, input commercial namesVideos build self –confidence in trying outEasy to remember because of repetitions even for illiteratesOther farmers join because they like videosHearing is one thing, seeing is believing!More videos on more topics!Partner OrganisationsVideos make work of field staff easierField staff empowerment (I was a donkey….now I feel like a horse)Increased attendance to extension meeting (evening time, less travelling etc.)Use of videos endorsed by mgt. across all programmes of the organisationRecommending video-led extension to other organisations500 villages reached in two years > 200 community based facilitators trained (just two cases) 5
    6. 6. The Challenge: Integrating Digital Green Video-led Extension 1 Years 2 Years 2 Years Partners & other Stakeholders Ownership There is no DG Joint success without Digital Green partner success! Partnership Learning Consultation Project 2009 2010 2012 2014 •Project team •Cases development •Instituionalisation competency •Organisational and • Project Exit •Approach stakeholders Buy-in •Scaling up development Mainstreaming DG video-led extension does not mean learning to use more projectors for screening videos but to strategically integrate technology, video content and delivery into partner programmes and organisational systems. 6
    7. 7. Implications for Digital Green Partnership DevelopmentAppropriation of DG approach by partners is the key to successDG would not exist without partners and their field staff facilitating screening. Partner managementcommitment and adequate resource allocation is necessary to make the approach workChange of partners’ extension procedures and systems is requiredDG is not only about making videos and information dissemination. DG suite of services is about skilldevelopment of extension staff in various dimensions, monitor impact at beneficiaries level andmaking explicit organisational know-how.Sufficient time for learning and exit partnerships are requiredEven if visible results have already been achieved, partnership agreements have been initially agreedfor a too short period of time. DG approach has mostly low investment to benefit ratios at the start.Partner organisations that are overworked, external funding dependent and juggling multiple prioritiesat field level require longer support period to sustain initial results and maintain quality.Users’ feedback is critical for DG approach & organisational evolutionDG suite of services and technology operates in a very challenging environment. It requirescontinuous adjustments. Mechanisms to foster collective learning and selection of improvements arecrucial to produce long lasting innovation. 7
    8. 8. Implications for ICT4DICT4D is not about new gadgets and web-toolsICTs are interwoven with people. They do not work independently from users. ICTs exist because usersfind them useful to fulfill specific tasks. They evolve or die off because of the social space in which theyare used.ICTs enhance humans’ possibilities - they cannot substitute humansInformation delivered on mobile may contribute to raise awareness. Changes of behaviour requirehuman relationships and interactions capable of building self- confidence, trust and enthusiasm.Technology increases access to opportunities. It cannot seize them.Nesting ICTs in organisational systems is the route to sustainabilityEconomic viability is no definite criteria for sustainability. People and organisation make it work andaffordable.Long lasting ICT-innovation need support of strong knowledge networksThe success of any innovation is based on mobilizing creativity among people who are willing to run witha brilliant idea even if it is flawed and underdeveloped. Real innovation emerges out of multi actorlearning capable of adapting the original idea and selecting the best improvements. This also entails thesupport of existing knowledge networks to provide relevant extension content to be disseminated. 8
    9. 9. “Coming together is a beginning Keeping together is progress Working together is success” Henry Ford….enabling others to better achieve is impact! 9