Digitally Empowered Rural Youths for Disseminating Agroecological Advisories in Potato Farming




© Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V.


In a nutshell

This project is aiming to digitally empower rural youth as providers of agroecological advisory in small-scale potato farming in India. We will train rural youth in agroecological principles and in delivering farm-specific advisories with the help of a mobile application. Based on updated agronomic and site-specific data, the app will enable agroecological advisory based on timely and farm-specific advisory schedules. Digitally empowered extensionists will be linked with farmer producer organisations and other stakeholders to ensure timely supply of the appropriate inputs to the farmers and to provide the basis for up-scaling.


Laudation by the jury

The agroecological transformation in India and around the world usually hits a roadblock when farmers cannot get enough relevant information in good time, in particular when implementing new practices. The present extension system supported by governments and the private sector, even some NGOs, recommend synthetic inputs that create a dependence. The proposed approach is needed because of the resulting high use of plant protection products in India (and elsewhere) coupled with youth unemployment and the fact that extension agents are over-run with demand while under informed and underpaid. This project’s proof of concept phase outlined the possibility to engage youth to increase advisory services on agroecological topics through the use of digital tools.


Though having the focus on potatoes, the project tries to progressively take a broader view which facilitates the shift to a more holistic digital advisory service following the agroecological principles.


"The emphasis on rural youth, women, and farmers organization to provide agroecological advisory services fits the needs of the farmers that want to transition to a wider array of agroecological practices to increase their operation’s resilience and stabilize income."


Further convincing and innovative elements were, in particular, the fact of engaging youth to facilitate the use of digital tools by farmers and the attention to gender balance while engaging young advisors. This supports intergenerational collaboration and social cohesion within communities. The project has the potential to equip youth to provide demand-driven agroecological advisory services, thereby opening a path to develop business models in advisory services.


Voices from the field

The consortia were invited to share impressions and stories from the project sites.

Training Barefoot Crop Doctors – Rural Youths as Extension Agents


Effective training and digital empowerment can enable rural youths as crop doctors supporting local agriculture. Crop losses caused by insects, mites, fungi, bacteria, nematodes, viruses and nutritional imbalances can severely affect farmers and their families. Indiscriminate use of harmful chemicals to save crops affects human health and environment while increasing the cost of cultivation. Our barefoot crop doctors can diagnose crop health problems on the farmers’ fields independently, estimate the severity of the problems, and provide agroecologically sound prescriptions.


Ashwath grew watermelons last summer. His crop was barely 15 days old when he started observing plants dying here and there. More plants appeared to follow suit. The family was worried. As it was still initial days, they had almost decided to uproot the plants and take up another crop to save the season. Shruthi, a young mother in the same village, had recently undergone the training on crop health management. Ashwath approached her for help. She immediately inspected the crop and, with the help of her app, found that it was severely infected by a fungal wilt. She assured Ashwath that the crop could recover if they altered the irrigation routine and apply a copper-based formulation as the problem was severe. This was done on the same day. There was a clear difference in one week. The spread of the disease had halted. Ashwath was able to get a good crop and he consulted with Shruthi on a regular basis for the rest of the season.


Twenty rural youths like Shruthi were trained and provided with an app to test the idea of creating barefoot crop doctors in Hassan, India. In addition to working as crop doctors, they were also prepared to work hand-in-hand with the farmer for the entire crop duration. They recommend practices based on agroecological principles and support farmers in adopting the practices.


“Supporting others is also boosting my confidence. I see my success in their eyes.”


Main applicant

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e.V. (DWHH) is a private non-benefit aid organization, fighting against global hunger and for sustainable food security. DWHH is responsible for project management and monitoring and provides guidance on agroecology and advisory services.


Consortium members

Tene Agri Solution (Tene-Ag) is an Indian private company developing ICT-products for the farming sector that provide equal opportunities for small and large agribusinesses. Tene-Ag provides and adapts the app and runs the necessary digital infrastructure and training.


MOTHER is a not-for-profit organisation from Karnataka, India which implements projects in the field of sustainable livelihoods, organic farming and community development together with community-based organisations.


The other finalists

Snakes and Ladders on the way to Agroecology

This project aims at developing a concept for the transmission (and repetition) of agroecological practices in a lively and conducive environment for smallholder farming families in India and Tanzania.


Potato Diversity Monitoring and E-Commerce

This project works towards an integrated digital advisory solution linking potato biodiversity monitoring with citizen science.


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The Assessment was made by the Expert jury and does not reflect GIZ´s or BMZ´s opinion or success estimation.