Innovation for Impact: It Starts with People

Your support for innovators makes a real and lasting change.

It was an “aha moment” that turned around a struggling program and started generating new opportunities for farmers in rural Cambodia.

Drip irrigation is an amazing technology that delivers just the right amount of water to each plant in a field. iDE’s team in Cambodia was trying to figure out why farmers were not buying the drip irrigation system that iDE was promoting. Nadia Campos - the head of iDE’s Innovation Lab - wanted to find out why.

“Our agriculture program was assuming that we were not selling drip irrigation systems because it was very expensive and complicated.” she explains. But assumptions can be misleading. Nadia and her team met with local farmers, dealers and produce buyers to better understand why drip irrigation were not selling. While doing the fieldwork, Nadia stayed with a farm family to see firsthand how they managed their farm and made decisions.

It was clear from these observations and conversations that farmers did not think the systems were expensive or complicated. The issue was that many of the farmers lacked good information on how to use the systems to improve yields, did not have access to good seed or other supplies, and did not have a ready market to sell their product.

The insights from this work led the iDE team to change their approach from selling a technology to providing a package that included training, inputs and connections to buyers. This ensured farmers could make best use of the technology and sell their produce for good prices.

A few years later, when Nadia returned to visit the family that had hosted her for her field work, she saw firsthand the difference that the prosperity package had made.

“I was amazed how much their life had improved. Their rice farm had become a vegetable farm. They were growing chili, cucumber, eggplant… and all of this because they were using the... package from iDE Cambodia.”

Real and lasting change is possible when we start with people - designing with users from the beginning. 

Your donation enables Nadia and her team to deeply engage with users to understand and develop new solutions together.

Your support for innovation makes an impact.