8Villages: Social Media for Farmers
Social media has taken over Asian countries by storm. Facebook for instance has approximately 236 million users in Asia. Seeing that social media usage in Asia is not only highly popular in urban areas but also in the rural areas and countryside, Mathieu Le Bras, Nathan Creswell and Sanny Gaddafi introduced social media for farmers. The platform is called 8villages.
The idea for 8villages was initially pitched by Mathieu Le Bras, a French agronomist. In the article written by Tech in Asia, growing up among farmers in the countryside of France, Le Bras noticed the contrast with the agricultural sector in developing countries to farmers in Europe. Farmers in developed countries have less knowledge about the changes in agriculture sector, for instance food price fluctuations, crop demands, and weather forecasts. This lack of information causes farmers in developed countries to earn less money than what they are supposed to get.
Le Bras, with the help of Nathan Creswell and Sanny Gaddafi, then introduced a mobile platform which will help farmers to have access to community groups based on their crops and location. By using 8villages, farmers are able to raise agricultural related questions which will be answered by other farmers and or experts. To be able to use the service, farmers are charged IDR 2,000 (16 euro cents) weekly.
Indonesia was chosen in the pilot project because the country has a homogenous farming ecosystem. In order to provide the best information to the farmers in Indonesia, 8villages is partnering up with the Indonesian Farming Institute (IPB), Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, and some international agriculture organizations.
Since it was launched in February 2012, 8villages has had 1,000 users with 62 community groups. The founders are targeting Vietnam and Philippines to be part of their international expansion plans in the near future; seeing that these two countries have quite similar farming situations and telecommunication landscapes.
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