8Villages: The Facebook of Indonesian Farmers!
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8Villages: The Facebook of Indonesian Farmers!
When somebody is talking about social media, what kind of ideas would come to your mind?
Personally, I would say Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social websites that incorporates some kind of files and information sharing between a group of friends or followers. When you talk about social media, it’s very easy to associate the term with the platforms listed above mainly because these websites are a well known brand and they have successfully managed to reach out to billions of people worldwide. In fact, Facebook has just made it to the top 100 Most Recognized Brand in the World, placing itself in number 69. This is a very prominent achievement considering that Facebook is not even a decade years old!
Similar to most of the developed countries, Facebook and all its equivalent social Medias had also taken Indonesia like a storm. These networking sites are one of the hottest commodities in Indonesia right now and it comes to no surprise if we see a 10 year old kid in Indonesia browsing his Facebook homepage through iPads or Blackberries.
Most of these social Medias seem to have a large impact on urban and metropolitan demographics of Indonesians and the rest of the world. However, would these social Medias eventually reach out to the people in the rural areas or countryside? Is there even a thing such as social media for farmers?
Believe it or not, social media for farmers actually exists!
The name of the platform is called 8villages. It is a mobile social platform that was developed by Mathieu Le Bras and his team just over a year ago with Indonesian farmers as their primary audience. It is not a fancy media like Facebook or Twitter, 8villages is just an online platform that can be accessed through 2G/CDMA cell phones since it only uses simple technologies such as Short Messaging Service (SMS) and voices but it has an internet feature as well. Then what is so special about this media? Isn’t it just a normal platform with slightly outdated technologies?
The idea of creating a social network for these Indonesian farmers is actually very ingenious. Agricultures had always been a primary business sector in Indonesia ever since the earliest historical records. Even in 2012, agricultural industry is still very prominent in Indonesia. There are approximately 48% of Indonesians still living in the rural areas with 42% of them making their livelihoods through the agriculture sector.
However as the world is becoming more modern every now and then, farming industry is also pretty much affected by the situation. The biggest problem for Indonesian farmers currently is how to determine which crops and the number of crops that they need to produce in order to meet the city folk’s demand.
Traditionally they’ve been able to keep up to the demand by making a lot of phone calls to their buyers and suppliers however this approach is becoming less efficient in the modern world because phone calls are expensive and consume too much time. The biggest issue with phone calls however is the lag of information that it creates. One day a consumer might want 100 potatoes however the next day he would want 100 carrots instead of the potatoes. Therefore resolving this lag of information issue will be a great boost for the farmers.
This is where 8villages comes in; basically it provides the farmers the latest information about the crops, buyers’ demand and prices. Other interesting feature about 8villages is the ability for farmers to contact directly with the buyers, sellers and even other local farmers through the social portal. This feature ultimately is one solution to the lag of information problem listed before and also it helps to reduce the cost of making phone calls. Farmers can also access information about pesticides, fertilizers and other farming tips through the database and also the SMS system.
Overall, the program is a tremendous success. It had received a lot of positive feedbacks from its testers and this success has caused 8villages to collaborate with more top Indonesian telephone carriers as well as the bigger companies that run their business based on agriculture. This achievement had also made Le Bras thinking of expanding to Vietnam and Philippines due to the similar cultural environment with Indonesia.
The success of 8villages was also caught on by the giant cell phone manufacturers, Nokia. Before the revolutionary era of Smartphones began in Indonesia, most Indonesians used Nokia as their cellular phones. After the introduction of Blackberries and Apple to Indonesians, Nokia phone decreased a lot in price thus making it affordable for these farmers and other people in the rural areas. Now, Nokia is looking forward to make more profit by providing a better service for its target audiences.
Nokia’s plan is to establish a service in which the farmers could receive information about crop prices, weather patterns and other detailed information through a daily text message. The purpose of Nokia is to connect these people to the modern world through the usage of social media platform while at the same it could expand to more rural parts of Indonesia.
These examples of 8villages and Nokia are very inspirational because they are able to implement social media in the most creative way that a lot of people would not expect. They have also proven that the usage of social media is not limited to city people only, even these farmers can be connected if you use the right strategy. Therefore get your creative juice flowing and try to experiment with social media, who knows that you might create a multi-million dollar worth of ideas in the future!