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Thousands of local extension agents equipped with Pico Projectors head into Indian villages and communities with an important objective: improve the lives of smallholder farmers by providing them with the necessary tools to achieve increased agricultural productivity and overall success. It’s basic, human-facilitated digital technology, but it’s already reached more than 1.4 million smallholder farmers, and resulted in a 21% increase in productivity for farmers in India: Digital Green video-based extension systems.

The videos themselves are produced within the communities by local farmers, such that “Farmers learn from each other, they adopt practices from their peers.” But this is just one example of the work that Christian Merz is facilitating as Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “…About 800 million people in the world do not have enough food to live a healthy and active life, and many of the poor families are actually smallholder farmer households,” says Merz. Through the use of ICT for agriculture, Merz’s work aims to “Transform agriculture to support smallholder farmer families and to give them the tools and technology to lift themselves out of poverty.”

So, to what extent can digital technology be applied in this regard? That is the question that lies at the heart of this work, and Merz is eager to discuss the answer. Hit play to hear more.

Merz also discusses:

  • A digital strategy that will invest in several distinctive areas, including social media, digital financial services, and self-service smartphone applications
  • The application of remote sensing technologies and drones
  • The misconceptions and problems that surround current digital solutions

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