Community, Crowdsourcing, and Commerce: WhatsApp Groups for Agriculture in Kenya

Title: Community, Crowdsourcing, and Commerce: WhatsApp Groups for Agriculture in Kenya
Authors: David, Cailean
Date: 2020-12-02
Abstract: WhatsApp’s growing presence in the developing world has led to a grassroots movement of messaging groups designed to serve relevant needs for small scale farmers in Kenya. These groups provide the means for as many as 256 members to ask questions, share experiences and solutions, gain access to information, and access markets for their products. This research project examines the use of these WhatsApp groups for agriculture in Kenya. The project seeks to understand the existing barriers to participation, and the use, benefits, and shortcomings of these groups for their members. Research findings indicated that farmers’ overall access to smart phones is a substantial barrier to their participation in groups for agriculture, and these barriers are expectedly more difficult for the poorest and most vulnerable (in which intersectional poverty creates additional barriers). However, while each group can vary significantly, members report that WhatsApp groups as a whole overwhelmingly benefit their livelihoods and practice. Systemic and societal change occurs when the experiences and successes of one individual are shared with a larger group – leading to rapid and shared prosperity. As each individual learns a new skill, technique, or input, the group must also learn and benefit from that knowledge. WhatsApp provides the means and the platform for this type of information exchange to occur at scale, and with individuals who would otherwise be unlikely to communicate. This research project examines the emerging use of grassroots WhatsApp groups as a potential example of this positive and inclusive approach to extension and development in agricultural communities.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -