Most recent stories ›
AgroInsight RSS feed

Videos to encourage agroecology February 4th, 2024 by

Agrochemicals can be sold, but agroecology often has to be shared for free.  In 2012, Access Agriculture (a non-profit) began to offer free videos on agroecology for farmers. A recent review of 244 digital tools found that Access Agriculture was one of only three that offered advice to smallholders on a wide range of agroecological principles, using exemplary extension features, such as options in various languages.

In 2021 we held an online survey of the users of Access Agriculture, to find out how people were using and sharing the videos and other information. They could take the survey in English, French, or Spanish, and 2976 people did so. Most of the respondents (83%) were living in Africa, where Access Agriculture started, suggesting that there is scope to expand in Latin America and Asia. Most survey takers were extensionists, educators (who show videos in class) and farmers themselves, who are increasingly getting online.

Access Agriculture makes an effort to feature female-friendly innovations and to film women farmers (as well as men). Still, 84% of the respondents were men. This is partly because women have less access to phones and to Internet, but the videos do reach women. Many of the extensionists who were surveyed use the videos with organized groups of women farmers.

The survey asked how the videos had made a difference in farm families’ lives. Answers were multiple choice, and more than one response was allowed. Choices were randomised so that each respondent saw them in a different order, so as not to favour the first items on the list. The top response, “better yield” garnered almost 50% of the responses. This suggests that strengthening farmers’ knowledge on agroecology, through the videos, can improve farmers’ yields, an idea that is currently debated.

The other frequent answers suggest that the videos promote productive, sustainable agriculture. “Improved pests, disease and weed management”, “better soil health and soil fertility”, and “better produce” were all noted by over 40% of respondents. Only 1% thought that the videos had made no impact on farmers’ lives.

Three quarters (72%) of the farmers who download the videos also share them. Farmers would only do this if they found the videos useful. The survey estimated that since 2015, the videos reached 90 million people, mainly by mass media. That is partly because the videos are professionally filmed, and TV stations can request the broadcast quality versions and play them on the air. Radio stations also broadcast the soundtracks, which are easily downloadable. From 2012 to 2021, four million people were reached by smaller programs, often screening videos in the villages.

Smart phones make it easy to share links to videos. Over half (51%) of the respondents shared the videos this way, reaching nearly five thousand (4927) organizations. By 2021, Access Agriculture had videos in 90 languages. However, only 55% of the survey respondents knew about these other language versions. As a result, by 2024, Access Agriculture had made local language versions easier to find online. In 2021, the Access Agriculture interface was only in three languages. Now it is in six, as Hindi, Bengali and Portuguese have joined English, French and Spanish. Access Agriculture also begun to list the video title and written summary in the language of each version, not just in the languages of the interface. Now users can find videos by entering search words in languages like Kiswahili, Telegu and Quechua.

The farmers (and others) who took our survey are people who can afford the airtime to take an online survey. They are literate in English, French or Spanish, because they have had a formal education. But with time, smart phones will become less expensive to use. As today’s youngest farmers mature, they will also bring more digital skills into the farming community. The next decade will make these videos even more accessible for farmers, extensionists and others, in ways we can scarcely imagine now.

Agroecology relies on techniques such as crop rotation, organic fertilizer, and natural enemies of plant pests. Many of these practices cannot be bought and sold. They depend on knowledge that can be conveyed online, by extensionists, and in schools. Videos in many languages can effectively share agroecology with farmers, for free, on the Internet.

Previous Agro-Insight blogs adapted from the online survey

Staying grounded while on the air in Ghana

A greener revolution in Africa

Teaching the farmers of tomorrow with videos

Further reading

Our online survey:

Bentley, Jeffery, Paul Van Mele, Flora Chadare, and Mahesh Chander. 2022. Videos on agroecology for a global audience of farmers: An online survey of Access Agriculture. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 20(6):1100-1116.

The review of digital tools:

Burns, Sessie, Kyle M. Dittmer, Sadie Shelton, and Eva Wollenberg. 2022. Global digital tool review for agroecological transitions. Agroecological TRANSITIONS: Inclusive Digital Tools to Enable Climate-informed Agroecological Transitions (ATDT). Cali, Colombia: Alliance of Bioversity & CIAT.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Design by Olean webdesign