Government to use social media to boost hill farmers' income
Facebook and Twitter to be used to provide information related to animal husbandry, fishery to farmers.Updated: Jun 14, 2018, 21:48 IST
To boost farmers’ income the Uttarakhand government has launched an online extension service under which social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter will be used to disseminate among them all information relating to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries sectors.
“Under the online extension scheme, we’ve already started making use of Facebook and Twitter to disseminate information among farmers. We will also soon start using WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram for a similar purpose,” said secretary, department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries R Meenakshi Sundaram.
Through those powerful social media platforms, he said information relating to all grant-in-aid schemes pertaining to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries along with procedures for applying for those schemes will be imparted to farmers.
“All such crucial information farmers will get through social media platforms will boost their productivity and income, which will help check forced migration from the hills,” Sundaram told HT on Thursday.
According to him, recently five departments together floated bids and selected a partner agency that “will assist us” in the social media outreach.
The five departments that floated bids are the Livestock Development Board, Directorate of Animal Husbandry, Sheep & Development Board, Fisheries Development Authority and Aanchal Dairy.
“We chose social media platforms to disseminate information among farmers owing to a number of reasons,” Sundaram said.
For one, the “outreach of social media platforms is very effective, which entails hardly” any cost.
“Besides, you can’t frequently organise farmers’ gatherings to share information with them because such a process involves the issue of logistics and space besides being costly.”
Then, farmers outreach programmes through traditional media like radio or television, he further clarified, have also their own limitations as they mostly involve one way communication.
According to the official, communication with target groups through social media is, however, not hamstrung by such limitations.
A direct interface between the service provider and the recipient of service, he clarified, is possible through interactive social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“That means during such interface farmers can make all kinds of queries like through which hatcheries in the state quality seeds can be procured and experts will answer them,” Sundaram said.
“In case farmers wish to procure seeds from outside the state, experts will tell them which agencies they could contact for the purpose.”
Similarly, farmers will “also get to know through interactive social media platforms about the programmes like vaccination drives, which are frequently organised” across the mountain state.
“We will also disseminate information about the day and time and places for such drives, so farmers would be able to get their cattle vaccinated,” Sundaram said.
Similarly, through social media platforms information will also be imparted to farmers about how they can increase the milk yield of their cattle.
“For instance, we will inform them to have their cows and buffaloes inseminated by the semen of elite bulls to get the high milk yielding varieties of progeny,” he said.
Similarly, through WhatsApp groups of farmers that will soon be created messages relating to activities pertaining to animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries will also be broadcast among them.
“The best and the most crucial use of social media platforms is that they will help communicate fast to farmers the latest researches relating to all those three key allied sectors of agriculture,” Sundaram said referring to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries.
He attributed the “existing gap between lab and land” to the paucity of extension staff and the inadequacy of the traditional media.
Sundaram denied that the slow internet connectivity in the hills might come in the way of information dissemination among farmers.
“It (slow internet connectivity) is not an issue in the hills barring some remote areas,” he said. “In such areas too efforts are on to speed up the internet connectivity, so things will improve soon.”