Farmers ask what’s up on WhatsApp

Pomegranates growing on Shashidhara Patil’s farm in Bagalkot district started to wilt. He asked agricultural scientists for advice, but it didn’t help him much. It was his smartphone that came to his rescue; he got his answers from Telegram Messenger App of ‘Progressive Farmers’.

Yenagi Venugopala Reddy, an agriculture expert in Jagalur taluk of Davangere district, was the one who offered some ‘practical’ remedies to tackle the wilting, and the smile was back on Mr. Patil’s face. This is how Progressive Farmers’ — a farmer-to-farmer interactive forum floated by the Department of Agriculture — is connecting the sons of the soil through their Android phones.

Claimed to be the first-of-its kind initiative in the State, Progressive Farmers’ is aimed at providing a platform for farmers to share their experiences and exchange expertise via WhatsApp. Farmers have now started uploading information, messages, pictures, and videos. Officials of the Agriculture Department are also chipping in when their services are required.

The department initially formed Farmers’ Friends — a group of top officials with Android phones — and asked them to exploit the possibilities of WhatsApp. “It is a platform to share real-time information,” said Subodh Yadav, Commissioner of Agriculture.

Making it mandatory for Joint and Assistant Directors to have smartphones, the department started passing information, messages, circulars through WhatsApp, even before hard copies could reach them. “This helped officials to take quick action and better interaction with farmers in distress,” Mr. Yadav said.

The next move was to form ‘Progressive Farmers’ platform and make them get used to modern technology. But, technology has its own limitations. Considering that the department could not develop a dedicated platform, the department decided to make use of a public platform such as WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram Apps.

Telegram App has now become a platform by the farmers and for the farmers, where they raise queries and get answers.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 11:28:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/farmers-ask-whats-up-on-whatsapp/article6492106.ece

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