⬆️ back to The Ecosystem of “Social Agriculture” (FINAL)
In this section:
What is 'social agriculture”?
We are observing a rapid surge in activity on social media platforms coming from farmers and others working in agriculture around the world, specifically in countries with a high proportion of the workforce in agriculture. We term this phenomenon 'social agriculture' and define it in the following way:
◾ Social agriculture refers to a set of practices that support agricultural livelihoods—including agricultural information exchange, agricultural support mechanisms, and agricultural markets—based on the use of social media platforms in countries with a high proportion of their workforce in agriculture.
Three key aspects of “social agriculture”
We conducted a detailed literature review and gathered stories and examples of practices around the world relating to social agriculture. We found three distinct sets of practices that make up this new and rapidly growing phenomenon.
Some further notes on social agriculture
With an outline of the concept of 'social agriculture' in view, it's worth stressing a few further points about our understanding of this phenomenon.
- We stress the term livelihoods insofar as it comprises the capabilities, material and social resources, and activities required for a person working in agriculture. Livelihoods is a concept broader than only the way social media supports commercial interactions within the agriculture sector.
- We are using a broad sense of "social media" which describes a set of digital platforms that allow users to create and exchange information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. This covers services like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
- We stress that many of the interesting practices we describe tend to unintentionally arise from the infrastructure and logic of social media platforms themselves. In other words, individuals working in agricultural are often re-purposing existing platform features to try and achieve the intended 'ends' of social agriculture, i.e. information exchange, buying/selling, etc.
- We often see the reinforcement of social capital as integral to the phenomenon of social agriculture. In other words, some of the early beneficiaries of the system (e.g. those receiving information) must later become benefactors (e.g. become information providers) for the many of these systems to work. In particular, information exchange and support mechanisms depend upon the culture of reciprocity between individuals in the social agriculture space.
Why is it important to define and discuss social agriculture?
Agriculture is still the driving livelihood in many of the world's countries.