How Social Media is Revolutionizing the Agriculture Sector


Recently farmers in Maharashtra have found an unusual ally in Facebook. The turmeric farmers there were facing a challenge as over supply had reduced the prices drastically. So they struck on an innovative solution. They formed a group on Facebook and started inviting farmers from across the region to join the group and have since then been deciding on the supply to help sustain the demand for turmeric.

Facebook Turmeric Council

Later they went a step ahead and started talking to farmers from Andhra and Orissa on the prices of turmeric in their region. The farmer have also used Facebook for class action like boycotting local market auctions if they feel the price is not correct. Every afternoon the whole group would get together on Facebook to decide on the future course of action. The best part is that most farmers used their smart phones to connect to Facebook. As there are more mobile phones in India than computers, it is given that this is the route for the propagation of technology and social networks.

Well this is not the first time that Farmers have been using technology. I know of this case study done on the fishermen in Tamil Nadu who used SMS to great effect. They had a mailing group in which they would know of rich catchment areas for catching fishes, the prices for the day and which market was offering the best prices. After the Tsunami they included services like storm alerts to this SMS group.

Similarly plantation owners in Coorg used a blackberry app to find out the prices of coffee, which is an internationally traded commodity. They also used the app to give out alerts on pest activity especially the ones caused by the white stem borer a common infestation especially with the Arabica coffee plants.

I think Agriculture is yet another sector that is on the verge of transformation. The implications are immense, from crop prices to sharing best practices and also forming co-operatives for collective bargaining. And these are some of the steps that I feel would be coming in the near future.

1. Farmers, Fishermen and Plantations using smart phones extensively to connect to others and the external world.

2. Transfer of information in the form of applications to be used on the phone

3. More and more entrenchment of social media especially with the rise of vernacular versions of some of the networks.

4. Social media becoming a way of life for the farmers for sharing best practices with other farmers across the globe

5. Finally farmers selling direct to consumers through forums like Community Supported Agriculture.

There might be other implications and steps. I want to hear your opinion on the same, please do let me know. As usual comments are welcome.

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  1. Dr Vikram says

    Hi Pradeep

    That is the beauty of what these farmers have done, They have used smart phones to access social media. Now a phone can be charged by many sources including solar chargers and electricity created by chakki mills etc..

  2. Facility management software says

    Agriculture is affected by technology tremendously and then this internet and social media but it is much like a dream than reality because Indian villages still don’t even have electricity then how we can think about social media?

  3. Script Lanes says


    1. Dr Vikram says

      I agree, #indiashining indeed!

  4. Altaf Rahman says

    This is a great development in the activities of farmers.
    Now that the farmers are well connected and know every thing on supply side, they should now target the demand side.
    They should connect with similar groups of consumers who face high cost inputs.
    For example, if there are citizens groups or importers groups in other countries which traditionally import turmeric, they should approach them and finalize the deals directly. This will help both parties. Farmers in India get good prices, consumers in other countries get cheap goods.
    This activity should expand to all products, be it agricultural, floricultural, dairy, fishing or even processed foods. All the producers should form groups (this will let them know supply side info) and make contacts on demand side groups.

    An interesting news from 20 years back which I still remember :
    I think 20 years back I read an article in TOI that a small group consisting of housewives in one housing society decided to buy kirana directly from farmers. They succeeded in their plan to bring down cost of kirana by as much as 25%.
    Their plan was simple. The group had around 200 families. Every month (before they get salaries) each housewife will come up with a list of kirana they plan to buy. When all the 200 families add up their requirements, they end up with something like 50 kg zeera, 100 kg dhaniya and so on. Just imagine, instead of buying 100 grams of zeera individually and buying about 50 kg zeera directly from farmer!!.
    They expanded their list of monthly kirana and they were hiring trucks to bring wheat floor, rice directly from farmers/mills.
    It was such an interesting read in Supply Chain Management performed by ordinary housewives, I still remember it 20 years later.
    The principle is same. Cut down middlemen. Form groups to negotiate on high volumes. The benifits ar ethere for every one to see.

    Just my two paisa :)

    1. Dr Vikram says

      Hi Altaf

      Some amazing points. The concept you are talking about is called Community Supported Agriculture. I wrote a piece on that some time ago.

      On the women creating a co-operative to buy directly, if you could send me the piece if you find it will be great. Otherwise you might want to write a piece on that as well.

  5. Dr Vikram says

    Hi Capital Desi

    I think e-chaupal is doing well but it is limited in its reach. Also you have to opt into the program. I am not aware of the TCS venture but would love to hear more. Social Media on the other hand has limitless possibilities as the interface is the internet. This greatly enhances the reach of collaborative activities using the social networks.

  6. CapitalistDesi says

    This is good news. I do wonder what has happened to the numerous ‘e-solutions’ that have been proposed / implemented over the years for this very same purpose. ITC’s e-choupal was a very publicised one. TCS also had a similar solution in place. Any idea on how these are doing?

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