Empowering Farmers in India Through Video: Interview with Rikin Gandhi
Digital Green is an international, non-profit development organization that builds and deploys information and communication technology to amplify the effectiveness of development efforts to affect sustained, social change. The unique components of the Digital Green system include:
a participatory process for local video production,
a human-mediated instruction model for video dissemination and training,
a hardware and software technology platform for exchanging data in areas with limited Internet and electrical grid connectivity, and
an iterative model to progressively better address the needs and interests of the community with analytical tools and interactive phone-based feedback channels.
Digital Green has been shown to be at least ten times as effective, per dollar spent, in increasing the take up of sustainable agricultural practices by farmers compared to traditional approaches to agriculture extension. Thus far, the Digital Green network has connected over 1,200 villages in India and Ethiopia, produced over 2,200 videos, and reaches more than 100,000 farmers every week. Digital Green provides training and technical support to its partners and develops technologies to empower the communities that they work with. The organization is supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Government of India. Digital Green's India headquarters is located in New Delhi with state offices in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Patna. Over the next 3.5 years, Digital Green plans to scale its operations to over 10,000 villages across India and extend its work to Africa.
Rikin Gandhi is chief executive officer of Digital Green. Rikin’s interests include sustainable agriculture and technology for socioeconomic development. He co-founded Digital Green as a research project in Microsoft Research India’s Technology for Emerging Markets team and now leads the spin-off of Digital Green that works to amplify the effectiveness of agricultural development globally. Rikin is a licensed private pilot and received patents for linguistic search algorithms that he helped develop at Oracle. He has a master's in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor's in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.