Harnessing Social Media in Agriculture
By admin August 18, 2016

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The transparent information and open communication that make for better business has upended industries of all sorts. Those same principles can be applied to one of the world’s oldest and most important livelihoods: Agriculture. It has been proven that digital tools can have tangible business benefits for the agricultural sector as a whole. Information disseminated through social networks has been easier to decide which flat to rent or movie to watch, and finally, rural agriculture stands to gain from a culture of crowdsourcing.

SMS communication is one of the most widely adopted ways for agribusiness collaboration. Information typically varies from weather patterns to fertilizer techniques that allow farmers to more efficiently manage their crops. Radio is another inexpensive tool to help farmers gain information regarding the sector. It has the lowest barriers to participation and transcends common obstacles of geography, education, infrastructure and literacy. According to Peter Kettler on Devex, “Radio is the least expensive, most widely disseminated and most democratic form of communication in the developing world,” 

For example, Radio Lifeline, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, broadcasts programs in East Africa on a variety of agribusiness issues for smallholder farmers. Similarly, the contribution of radio to agricultural information has affected small rural farmers in India. All India Radio (AIR) has been in rural development since India’s independence. The most successful one has been ‘Kisan Vani’, which informs farmers about day-to-day market rates, various agriculture techniques, new methods of farming, animal husbandry, etc. Besides that, AIR also has programs for the empowerment of rural women, which educates them on family planning, dowry, female feticide, child care, among others. It’s not hyperbolic to assume that All India Radio has planted seeds of knowledge for rural people in India

Beyond the blogosphere and Twitterverse, farmers have tapped into other marketing channels to raise awareness for their causes. Maryland’s largest organic farm, One Straw Farm, has taken to Kickstarter as a way to harness digital influence and online fundraising for the development of two mobile apps. The first app would provide a way for farmers to communicate with consumers on a weekly basis throughout the harvest season, while the second app would assist farmers with keeping records. No enterprise is unaffected from the increasing demand for efficient record-keeping, and for an industry where the bulk of time is spent in the field (literally), this app is meant to alleviate issues with recording procedures by enabling farmers to update their records from anywhere.

Farmers are also generally risk averse and their uptake of new technologies can be slow. Training farmers to understand and accept the digital platform is still the biggest obstacle. Another challenge facing crowdsourced agribusiness platforms is the issues of financial sustainability. The data platforms themselves have a costly overhead and rely on different strategies than Twitter, Yelp or other crowdsourcing sites to generate revenue.

However, as technology embeds itself in every aspects of our daily lives, as modernize the way we do business, so to will it now influence and modernize the world’s oldest profession.

To find out more:
Farmers Making Use of Social Media:

The Power of Social Media in Agriculture: A Guide to Social Media Success: Media Manual.pdf

The Influence of Social Networks on Agricultural Technology Adoption:

How social networks can boost smallholder agriculture:

Rural India: The Next Frontier for Social Media Networks:

Harnessing Social Media in Agriculture:

Thanks for sharing !

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