Monday, December 28, 2015

Feature | Farm Chat | Makeshift magazine

Working the rural fields of India’s Maharashtra state can be lonely and backbreaking work for small-scale farmers. So Anil Bandawane, a farmer and engineer, created a Facebook group called ‘Baliraja’ — farmer king, roughly — with about a dozen fellow farmers in 2012. The members chatted about their work, posed questions, and traded tips, building ties they couldn’t form alone on the farm. They also began filling the isolating divide that can lead struggling or financially desperate farmers to suicide (a significant problem in rural India).
The group grew rapidly. Anil began to see the massive potential for a bigger forum where farmers could connect with each other and talk with experts who answered questions in real time. He expanded Baliraja to the instant messaging service WhatsApp, which now counts more than 1,000 farmers plus agricultural experts, consultants, and suppliers.

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