When Niranjan Deshpande, founder of Kisan Forum, which hosts an annual ‘Kisan Agri’ show in Pune during December...
When Niranjan Deshpande, founder of Kisan Forum, which hosts an annual ‘Kisan Agri’ show in Pune during December, had to get in touch with farmers in the region to invite them for the show this year, he used WhatsApp for maximum reach. For the last couple of years, he had opted to send out SMSes, while earlier he used to send out postcards and letters.
What surprised Deshpande this year was the 50% jump in the number of smartphones among farmers in the Kisan database of 15 lakh farmers. Kisan invites around a lakh farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana to the event, where agri inputs, machinery and service providers showcase their latest offerings to the farmers.
Last year around 6,000 farmers registered for the event via SMS. This year Deshpande created a mobile app to invite farmers and registration for the event. Till now he has already received 30,000 pre-registrations for the show, slated to begin on December 16. He expects total mobile app registrations to go up to 50,000.
“There has been a 50% rise in smartphones among our farmers between December 2014 and December 2015,” says Deshpande. They are using these phones and the WhatsApp messenger platform to find solutions to their problems or demonstrate their farms and experiments. The ability to share photos and videos effortlessly seems to have clicked with the farmers. The ability of smartphones to communicate in Indian languages has helped farmers overcome the language hurdle too.