Facebook emerges as new dialogue forum for agri-policy in India

The power of social media is fast catching up with the union cabinet. While many ministers are already doing it, the agriculture minister, Mr Radha Mohan Singh is the latest to club as he recently interacted with people across the nation through facebook

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New Delhi: These days there is hardly anybody from an Indian family who is not on the facebook or not familiar with atleast its name. Even in the rural areas, with the fast changing information technology scenario coupled with the easy access to mobile phones, both the young and old have started to use social media networking for various purposes. Therefore, given the huge population in India, social media presents an easy opportunity to connect at least with a fairly larger chunk of population.

Perhaps it was in the same backdrop, the union agriculture and farmers welfare minister, Mr Radha Mohan Singh through his ministry, organized a direct dialogue with the people, across the nation through facebook on May 30, 2016. The minister said he took questions related to agriculture and Ministry and answered on face book between 11am and 12 pm. Mr Singh added that 450 queries came on facebook and 100 were responded instantly. He said that responses of remaining questions are being communicated. The minister said that over 30, 000 people saw it on the face book and we received 600 comments till 3 pm in the evening.

The exercise has been followed by a series of interactions during the months of June and July as well.

Based on the dialogue, the minister said that future of agriculture in India is great and people are very much hopeful about it. “People from all over country asked questions and the prominent feature of this dialogue was that all of the queries were related to the agricultural sector. In asking questions people seemed to be serious, and they asked innocently and with honesty,” he stated.

Interesting facts on facebook in India:

● Close to 11 crore people in India use facebook which is roughly about 9% of the overall population.

● India has the largest user base for facebook after USA and Brazil. No doubt any government would get serious about its utility.

● The key government agency under ministry of agriculture, Indian Council of Agriculture has close to 1 lakh 18 thousand likes on facebook.

Generally the questions reflect the status of various agriculture schemes being implemented in the country and advantages of the schemes are reaching to the farmers or not. Minister feels that the implementation of the agriculture schemes takes place through states and based on the questions asked, he also gets to know extent of agricultural progress in states.

Facebook getting popular in rural setting too?

There have been many instances in India where agriculture officers have used the facebook for generating interest through formation of farmer groups. Farmers themselves too have taken the initiatives. An as example, the turmeric farmers in Maharashtra came up with a solution after seeing the prices drop because of oversupply. They created a group on facebook where they invited farmers from the region to join and decide together how much to produce to maintain the demand for turmeric. They have also used facebook to get in contact with farmers in other regions and plan boycotts when they feel the prices in certain markets are not right.

Given that there are more mobile phones than computers in India, most of the farmers use their smart phones to connect to facebook.

Meanwhile visibly satisfied at the experience, the agriculture minister mentioned that he will log into the facebook quite often for direct dialogue with public. Mr Singh said that hereon he would have direct question – answers session on this popular social media platform on regular basis. Well we too will log in to catch up with you Mr Minister.