At a time when the agriculture sector is in distress and farmer suicides have become common, a group of farmers from Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone are making use of social media network to practice modern farming, ensure best prices for their produce, and also prevent crop failure.
The group – comprising more than 50 farmers – uses WhatsApp and Facebook to not only stay connected, but also to keep members up to date about topics ranging from mandi prices to outbreak of diseases and trade inquires from exporters.
“Most of us are educated and four members have agriculture degrees, so others can make use of our knowledge. One of us is an expert in mechanized agriculture and has a range of advanced agriculture equipment that is available on hourly rental basis,” Krishanpal Singh Mourya (36), a farmer in Nimarkhedi village, about 90 km from Indore, told HT.
“Most of all, we benefit from instant communication which has been made possible thanks to technology,” he said.
The results of joining hands and making use of technology are also visible on the ground. Last season, the group’s average tomato yield was 70 tonne per acre as compared to state’s average yield of 40 tonne per acre. Six members of the group have received award from the state government for excellence in agriculture.
Samar Singh, one founder, said the group members not only get better yield and better prices but also a better marketing platform. “If an exporter needs 100 tonne of tomatoes then we can pool our produce and fulfill his requirement immediately,” he said.
“The produce goes to different mandis and different brokers so when we share the rates and if anyone have got less, then he can call up the broker and ask for fair price,” said Singh, who has a 100-acre farm in Bagda village.
The other advantage that the farmers get is in tackling the outbreak of crop diseases. “Sharing information on WhatsApp about crop diseases is a very efficient way to control the outbreak,” said Mourya.
The group’s members also share the latest technical and updates and make efficient use of transport facilities to ensure that perishable produce of all the members are shipped on time. They have also formed a “hi-tech vegetable and fruit production group” that use modern farming methods, machinery for packaging material, grading to enhance the shelf life of the produce.
The group members hold regular meeting at a member’s farm to share their experiences in person.