This Month We Celebrate
WhastApp for Agriculture: When a Digital farmer speaks ,you see a need for digital Agriculture extension
I remember that time when I was asked to walk 10 km away from home to find a local buyer of Marakuja and papaya for my parents to pay my school fees, the buyer who will in turn walk 10 km to sell them in Kigali city capital of our country . There was no mobile phone to call each other, we had no any other option. If anyone wanted to spread pesticide in your coffee plantation, He/She must walk house by house asking who could be having the pumping machine. I think you can imagine how long it will take to ask the whole Village.
Nowadays, opening my eyes and after praying the Almighty to blessing my day, I automatically open my Smartphone to check new message and chat from a group of young farmers on Whatsapp -that I actually call the hope for tomorrow- , to see the new conversation that was going on, new picture from a far farm that I can’t reach myself , new farming videos , new farming techniques documents, notice from the Ministry of Agriculture and other Agriculture Agencies. I feed my day with this breakfast then I start my work full of commitment from inspiring young farmers. Around 250 very brilliant , committed , skillful and professional farmers , a platform by YEAN , an organization that spread agriculture information and Agriculture extension in young farmers to which I owe a big congratulation for bringing together the hope for tomorrow , a generation from an demographically young country. With this platform information is shared digitally and he who wants to grow crop, sell products, buy products , import agriculture products, export agriculture products gets information from there. It’s a easy and smart way of connecting farmers among them, with buyers and policy makers.
A screen shoot of YEAN WhatsApp Group where a farmer from the North Province asking a Quick help to deal with a disease in his Tamarillo Plantation
Social media is bringing a new generation of professional farmers, I remember a friend of Mine who bought new seeds of papaya from Brazil just a commitment from that group and another young Ladies who started a duck farm . I can’t imagine how young people are feeling Agriculture as their pride in spite of migrating to other so called social acceptable professions. It gives me hope that Africa will be able to feed 4 billion in 2100.
YEAN has a mission of spreading agriculture information and facts to the community to inspire change for the pursuit of beauty and excellence in young agripreneurs and/or the community and shares stories from farmers to farmers or from Experts to farmers to inspire youth in leading the change in Agriculture and skills development that improves the living conditions of farmers for sustainable development.
YEAN Whatsapp Group is one among strategies YEAN uses to spread out information to their beneficiaries and the whole community. This method, with almost 250 farmers ,I can say that it is a powerful weapon to YEAN agriculture extension agency to meet its goals in a Rwandan Community .
To YEAN how? To Rwanda farmers how?
Worldwide millions of people are using Whatsapp application in mobile smart phones as their easy way of sending and receiving info where at least in two/three minutes probably people check for new messages they received. So after realizing this, in 2014 YEAN Rwanda took advantage of this easy way to reach farmers and creates a YEAN WhatsApp Group which brought together young farmers, Professional farmers, agriculture specialists, agriculture technicians, agriculture engineers, in order to easily/quickly spread information in a short period of time. So according to the mission of YEAN Rwanda that is Spread agriculture information and facts to the community to inspire change for the pursuit of beauty and excellence in young agripreneurs and the community. This Platforms is helping farmers to exchange ideas and quick help in farm, pictures, short movies, Audios of what is happening right away in the farms, farmers are no longer lonely or lack information due to the remote location of their farms , just drop a message and share what you are doing if in any case you face challenges another farmer or Agronomist is ready to help you remotely.
When I look carefully how this group works-because I am also a participant-, truly I can’t hesitate to say that this method is a driven method: is accurate, easy, workable, cheap, fast, reliable, and very simple but again it has significantly a great role in transforming Agriculture Rwanda. Ideas shared critically discussed and each member has the right to express his/her ideas according to the experience from his/her farm .
This Group has an incredible success according to the interaction-discussion “UBUHINZI BWACU” a Kinyarwanda word that means “Our farming Story” this amazing weekly discussion is open on all YEAN social media Platforms (Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp) every Sunday from 8:00 AM up to 8:00 PM, but the remarkable conversation and touchable ideas appear on WhatsApp group, members are free and open, they extensively debate on a given topic and each member is motivated when you see how discussion is going on. During this discussion farmers are exchanging ideas about a given topic . One day after the discussion, the summary is made available to YEAN official website (yeanrwanda.org) to be shared again on social media such as Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn Google+. The discussion is purely in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda national language) this makes it to be enjoyable with a flow of more of technical and comprehensive terms that makes it to be suitable for local farmers.
Screen shoot of YEAN WhatsApp Group during a weekly “Ubuhinzi Bwacu” discussion
I enjoy farming stories, keep enjoying with me and if in any case you read this blog and you are a participant of to this group , Kudos to you, your ideas matters . Enjoy how cool is Agriculture.
A story by Etienne Niyigaba (email@example.com)