<aside> ⬆️ back to The Ecosystem of “Social Agriculture” (FINAL)


In this section:

How big is social agriculture globally?

This report’s initial discussion,What is “social agriculture” and why should we care?, identified examples of farmers and others engaged in social agriculture across regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, and Southern and Eastern Asia. This section focuses on these global regions to estimate the number of people involved in social agriculture. Notably, this discussion does not include Latin America, because currently there are far fewer examples of social agriculture in action. However, this absence may be explained by the fact that our search was limited to English-speaking sources.

First a “Rest of World vs. China split” can be observed in these regions. China's social agriculture is well established and predominantly based on technology platforms operating and designed for Chinese markets only (e.g., Pinduoduo and Douyin). In the rest of the world, Facebook and WhatsApp dominate usage. Publicly available data on the use of social media among farmers, or any of the above mentioned platforms, is sparse. Therefore, novel approaches are necessary to estimate the size of social agriculture across the regions identified. In particular:

Just how big is the audience "interested in agriculture"?

Facebook audience interested in agriculture

We built a dataset from Facebook's Ad platform for a sample of all countries outside Latin America, Europe, and North America with at least15% of their labor force in agriculture. The following metric is defined from this data:

Facebook audience interested in agriculture (FBinAg audience): the estimated audience size for a country (or region) provided by the Facebook Ad platform when creating a new advertisement, where the ad uses the following detailed targeting settings: (1) users must live in the country (or region) selected; (2) users must be above 18 years of age; and (3) users must have an interest in "agriculture.”

The FBinAg audience serves as a rough estimate of social agriculture in the sample of countries with a higher proportion of the labor force working in Ag (min. 15%). Using previously collected data from Facebook's Ad platform, this figure from 2018 and 2021 was compared. This approach will inevitably represent an overestimate of the total number of individuals involved in social agriculture (discussed more below). Nevertheless, we believe it provides a useful general estimation of the size of social agriculture in the regions highlighted in this report.

In 2018, the FBinAg audience in selected countries stood at just over 100 million. In 2021, this figure ballooned to over 220 million. Even if these estimates are restrained by a generous correction factor (e.g., cutting figures in half) to account for over-estimation of the actual population active in social agriculture, the scale of this audience is vast.



Map of Facebook users interested in agriculture in Asia, 2021

[Source: Facebook Ad platform, World Bank, ILO, Learn.ink analysis](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRxKCTJpdRMdv7uItF4TAloeGQVEW7QVF6omK5zJiRz6yl9psKQEywZeQcMI-Q0mtPOJQOoN8WyN1bN/pubchart?oid=1639300143&format=interactive)

Source: Facebook Ad platform, World Bank, ILO, Learn.ink analysis