From reporting to connecting individuals to creating new channels for like minded farmers, use of social media in the South African farming community is widespread. Social platforms have opened a new aspect to farming life; staying connected.
Agricultural farmers are inherently isolated. This has, however, started to change. Younger farmers are utilising apps like Facebook, Twitter, Gumtree and the likes to connect, share information and perform research in order to optimise their farming methods and stay current.
And the industry is reaping the benefits.
Social media and the broader internet is a great and almost essential tool for innovative farmers to access information. In addition, farming focused community groups on social media connect farmers from across the country. Groups allow farmers to share tips, trade secrets and good deals on equipment and services. Oté, for example, is one such online platform that will gain attention in the next few months. By utilising the power of the internet, Oté has changed the way farmers procure inputs. In other words, by utilising the web, farmers see a massive reduction in the cost of inputs as well as the risk associated with procurement.
Felfies on social media
Started in the UK in March 2012, international farmers started following the Twitter hashtag, #AgriChatUK. Farmers used the hashtag to discuss anything and everything about farming, including its struggles. The same goes for the #Felfie, a ‘farming selfie’. International and South African farmers alike posted pics of themselves on social media in the fields. The trend boosted morale and made farmers aware that they weren’t facing the many struggles of farming alone. Having a platform to start necessary conversations about and for farmers was essential for not only their emotional wellbeing, but also their profession.
A less cheerful development in the use of social media in the farming community is the reporting of crime on farmers. However, use of social media has also alerted the South African urban community to this problem. Without an online platform to take this struggle to, farmers might not have been as successful at curbing crime as what they have been. And, although crime in rural areas remains widespread, staying connected is certainly a positive step.
The online space has certainly changed farming. Some say the changes are subtle, whereas other cannot see themselves farming without the benefits of the web.