Agriculture’s digital transformation: helping farmers boost their businesses online

thai digital farmerThe COVID-19 lockdown and associated travel restrictions have impacted over eight million farmers across Thailand and required many farms to close temporarily. Yet, amidst this challenging economic crisis, digital transformation is escalating at a rapid pace.

To help ensure Thai farmers can benefit from a smart and sustainable digital future, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and Kenan Foundation Asia partnered to launch Digital Marketing for Smart Farmers. As part of the Boost with Facebook curriculum, the “Digital Marketing For Smart Farmers” program is designed to enhance local farmers’ competitive edge by equipping them with online marketing knowledge, skills, and technology. To date, Kenan has equipped 48 participants with a comprehensive understanding of business and online marketing and how to optimize their Facebook Page to create impactful content and understand the detailed analytics on their page. The participants will be able to directly apply this knowledge to improve their business and provide products or services that better meet customers’ needs. This will increase job opportunities and build a sustained source of income for Thai farmers in the future.

Kenan’s digital experts will equip farmers with the skills to use new digital technologies to reach a broader customer base and suppliers of processed agricultural products during this crisis. A key aspect of the project is for Kenan to provide training to develop farmers’ online marketing skills using social media such as Facebook, Line, and Instagram. There is a clear digital divide between the farmers who have been able to benefit from the opportunity to use online channels and those who have been left behind. According to the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE), Thai farmers selling online had increased 26% during the first lockdown and 57% of them have achieved average sales per month growth.

The best place to start an online business

Social media is one of the most highly effective and low-cost ways to launch an online business. The most popular social platform in Thailand is Facebook, with nearly 55 million registered Facebook users, covering the vast majority of the population. Small-scale farmers participating in the project will learn how best to leverage Facebook to present their products, engage customers, advertise and close sales.

Going ‘Live’ to boost sales

Compelling content can transform a straightforward agricultural product into a high-value brand. Since many countries have been in lockdown over the past year, Facebook Live users have climbed by 27% in Thailand as this channel allows customers to feel connected while social distancing.

Hasun Dried Seafood based in Satun province is one example of a company that executed a digital marketing strategy to sell their products using Facebook Live. Their energetic style went viral, and thousands of viewers watched their Facebook Live videos and posts. Inspired by the content, Wirachayaporn 40 years old, a watermelon farmer in Thailand, who was facing great difficulty selling through traditional channels, decided to start using Facebook Live. This campaign led to the ‘Khon Thai Mai Thing Kan’ (meaning ‘Thai people won’t leave anyone behind’) movement and received over 200,000 views in one night resulting in 100 tons of watermelons being sold.

Succeeding online

To thrive in online business, farmers in the project will be assisted to analyze their target market, utilize digital marketing tools, and collect data to improve how they communicate with customers. The current online marketplaces, including Facebook, provide merchants with a wealth of tools and information to optimize their communications. For instance, a feature called ‘Facebook Insights’ allows users to see key data points such as page views, page actions, research competitors, etc. These analytics will help farmers determine which online platforms and strategies are the most profitable and guide winning digital transformation for farmers.

This is part of a series of projects with Facebook to support marginalized and vulnerable populations in Thailand:

Digital Marketing for Smart Farmers

GHB Seniors Got Talent

Boost with Facebook: An Inclusive Digital Capacity Building Program for Thai MSMEs

If you are interested in starting or boosting your online business, we invite you to follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KenanThailand

Kenan Asia

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