IDEO.org is the non-profit arm of the design and innovation company IDEO. It applies the concepts of human-centred design to poverty alleviation. Juhudi Kilimo first worked with IDEO.org in 2012, on a project that used rapid prototyping to find out how technical information could best be shared with rural smallholder farmers.
During the project, a team from IDEO.org visited some Juhudi farmers, building and testing prototypes of different agricultural training techniques, including instructional videos featuring peers (members of the farming community) and a call centre. The videos were found to be more effective than the call centre, as farmers trusted the expertise and experience of their peers, and also learnt more effectively in a peer-to-peer setting. The rapid prototyping exercise is featured in the latest edition of the Field Guide to Human-Centered Design, published in April 2015 by IDEO.org.
Building on the initial human-centred design project, we have developed a library of training videos for our farmer clients, following the principles and best practices identified in the prototyping exercise. The engagement with IDEO.org was a good example of a field research partnership that generated practical and actionable insights for Juhudi Kilimo, and we are proud of being mentioned in the new Field Guide.
A few weeks ago, we met up with IDEO.org again, this time to gather information about the farming and irrigation practices of one of our farmer clients. Together with our Thika Branch BDO Milly Muhuro, we visited the farm of Ms. Teresia Katunge, a Juhudi client who has taken a loan to purchase irrigation equipment for horticultural farming.
The IDEO team – John Collery, Natalia Sourdis and Barry Lachapelle – asked Ms. Katunge about her agricultural practices, decision-making processes, and irrigation needs. They also tested a prototype low-cost sensor device that can be used to gather data about soil quality and weather conditions.
The visit was brief but sparked many questions about how timely and accurate information and data could help farmers conserve limited or costly resources like water and fertilizer, while making crop production and irrigation practices more efficient. The Juhudi Labs team is keen to continue working with IDEO.org to find practical, human-centred solutions to such challenges facing smallholder farmers.
Photos courtesy of Natalia Sourdis, IDEO.org