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The Growers’ Club: How farmers are turning to Clubhouse to discuss agriculture-related issues

Agri-commodity analyst Deepak Chavan said they first discuss the weather and then proceed to an expert member introducing the topic of the day in their chats.

A month back, when agri-commodity analyst Deepak Chavan chanced upon the social media app Clubhouse, he never thought that it would become a handy tool to spread knowledge about the technical know-how related to agriculture.

It is from here that the Indian Farmer’s Club was born and since then, they have been conducting daily sessions where farmers exchange live information about crops and practices with each other.

The vast and complex field of agriculture extension has over the years developed in a top-down model, where farmers are given information. Chavan pointed out that in most cases, this information is from the point of view of the analyst or the consultant who might or might not have real-time field information. “What farmers want and what is offered often differs in many ways. But the audio drop-in rooms of Clubhouse are a solution to this problem,” he said.

Social media is nothing new for the farmers with analysts like Chavan using popular mediums like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to reach out to them. However, the issue of unwanted attention or spam and unidirectional flow of information hampers what can be the real exchange of information. “The rooms of Clubhouse allow for controlled entry of participants. The format of audio drop-in rooms is good as free exchange of ideas is possible,” he said.

Traditionally, for farmers, the village square has been the source of information exchange. Mostly, the lead in these conversations is taken by individuals who are knowledgeable in the subject and the free-flow conversation is interspersed with questions from others. Chavan said ClubHouse allows this format which is helpful for the farmers. “So, in our rooms, we first discuss the weather and then proceed to an expert member introducing the topic of the day. Post this, the room is open for question and answers,” he said

The first session of Clubhouse was hosted by Chavan was about onions — a subject he has a lot of experience in. “I had published this on my Facebook wall and within seconds, around 40 farmers had gone live,” he said. Since then, he conducts daily sessions at 7 pm. “Expert farmers log in and we talk freely about various agriculture-related issues,” he added.

The invitation-only feature of Clubhouse, Chavan said, allows for them to stop trolls or spams coming into the rooms. Since inception, the Indian Farmer’ Club has seen around 50-80 farmers logging in daily to listen to the session. “We feel this new platform would help farmers get the right kind of knowledge,” he said.

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