Social media have taken an important role into the global society as a tool that encourages us to share our lifestyle to the world. Now it is being transformed to assist agribusiness across the Caribbean to engage with their customer, to increase calibration and support the value chain in the agriculture sector.
The new era of agribusiness through the introduction of web 2.0 and social media workshops are showing today’s new generation of farmers the value of ICT. I will take you into the classroom of such a session being conducted at the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum, which is organised by CTA and partners in St Michael, Barbados from 02-06 November 2015.
Participants from various areas of the agricultural value chain sat down for a session with Dr. Tara Wilkinson McClean (PR consultant and Media communication) and Mr. Ken Lohento (ICT Programme Coordinator at CTA), both with years of experience in ICT and social media.
Social media is now a mainstream form of communication around the world, and continues to grow in popularity with the increase in the number of smartphones. This has now created a new channel for farmers to interact and market their produce. The value of social media for the agricultural industry lies in the value of social capital. It brings the farmer, industry and consumer close together so that there is more transparency, engagement, trust and authenticity in the supply chain.
Harvesting social media in agriculture provides three key areas of value are:
Calibration across the region (farmer-farmer)
In the session, participants got a look into the powers of google to enhance their interaction with other farmers across the region. To go to places that were once isolated by miles of ocean and restrictions to now being just a mouse click away. The trainers used google drive as a tool for sharing and updating information simultaneously. It can also act as a storage area for different techniques being used from one farmer and can be shared by another. These have opened a wealth of knowledge and ideas from a range of sources.
Consumer Engagement (Marketing)
Who are our customers? What are their needs? How can we solve it? These are some of the questions our participants came to the session with, and all the answers laid into the use of social media. Twitter and Facebook alone have a combination of over 1.2 billion users across the world. Marketing using such social media platforms can enable agri-business to connect with a growing farming demographic and customers. These platforms not only introduce you to your customer, but the different analytic tools and engagement techniques demonstrated at the session can also help agribusinesses understand their customer’s needs.
Industry knowledge and trends
Knowledge is the key to successful businesses. The Web 2.0 and social media session did shed some light on how to obtain this kind of information and knowledge through understanding the search engine on google and also other components such as Google alerts. So, many agribusiness can now access and tailor information being sent to them on a daily basis.
The session on “Introduction to Web 2.0 and Social media for development” was definitely an eye-opener for the participants on how these tools can be used for agribusiness. The future of agriculture is not only at production level (as it is very often believed to be), but also at different levels of the value-chain. And the use of social media and ICT as a whole brings in a whole new perspective to agribusiness!
Photo credit: CTA
Blogpost by Oldane Graham, Social Reporter for the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015.