How a Telegram Group (Farmers+254) Is Rapidly Transforming Itself To Becoming A Support System For Farmers In Kenya
A simple mobile phone 15 years ago was out of reach for most small holder farmers in Kenya but that has changed. Affordable smart phones are increasingly becoming accessible and there is foreseen increase in usage for the technology by small holder farmers to access information in the medium term.
Today, a group of young professional youths involved in agriculture has seen an opportunity in creating an agricultural group on telegram – Farmers+254 – in Kenya, a group where farmers are sharing information, marketing their produce, getting technical help, market updates, trends in agribusiness, value addition support and questions getting answered in real time.
Telegram has indeed become part of the holy grail together with the traditional over the internet SMS to reach more small holder farmers and value chain actors with timely information dissemination.
Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service, similar to WhatsApp. It allows users to send messages as well as images and videos and currently stands at more than 100million downloads
Telegram groups are emerging to be the newest face of information sharing in Kenya today, and one of its major advantage over its competitor WhatsApp groups being is that telegram group can hold a huge number of members totaling to 5,000+ unlike WhatsApp that accommodates only 256 members.
A comparison between WhatsApp and Telegram highlighted the latter’s ability to transmit messages faster and more securely. However, it’s the security features that make Telegram truly stand out. Telegram allows for a secure chat connection and self-destructing messages
HOW TO JOIN THE GROUP: Download Telegram app from Play store / app store and install it on your phone. After successful installation, click this link to join the group Farners+254 https://t.me/joinchat/AAAAAD_bR5vJhdLPzGFQfg
HOW TELEGRAM IS CHANGING THE FACE OF FARMING I N KENYA
“Tho bulk SMS based based platforms continue to be one of the best information dissemination outlets for small holder farmers Kenya. The challenge has been that these SMS platforms are donor driven and the cost of sustaining them beyond project life cycles have been a challenge. In Kenya you will notice that those Bulk SMS platforms are run by private companies that heavily depend on NGOs contracting and outside projects, they lacks the critical mass to drive margins and stay in the green. They are what i call Start Stop services.” Explain John Kiruthi, the team leader of Farmers Trend
“I find telegram to be the cheapest way to share information so it does not surprise me that agroinformation-based telegram groups are mushrooming in Kenya . Some of the agricultural groups sprouting out on telegram today in Kenya range from rabbit farming, tomato farming, onion farming, organic farming, dairy farming, goat farming, etc” ~ Says John
Farmers in Kenya are increasingly depending on this Telegram group and they get immediate advice including progressive farmers and agricultural experts. Farmers+254 Telegram group is rapidly transforming itself to becoming a support system for farmers.
Farmers are also connecting with each other. Farmers+254 allows farmers from various counties to seek and share agriculture advice as well as connect with experts in various fields and learn new practices. This group has now been active for over 5 months. The biggest discussion has always been about market, cropping periods and diseases. The group’s membership has grown from 50 to more than 1200.
Farmers Trend, the moderators of Farmers+254 Telegram group have noted the enormous market linkage potential that the Telegram platforms brings to value chain actors and Agribusiness SMEs in Kenya. Facilitating the creation of Telegram group by Farmers Trend so that farmers in Kenya share knowledge on inputs and output markets has resulted in improved market information access at a factional cost. Seed and output buying companies representatives has also taken the opportunity to join Farmers+254 Telegram group and market their company products. Farmers Trend representatives administer the platform themselves and content is strictly limited to Agriculture and related issues.