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The Facebook Farm Extension

With agriculture as the most dominant economic drivers in some African countries, The Facebook Farm Extension is an online platform through Facebook which aims to build a growing movement of youth farmers online.

Photo of Jennifer Fong
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The Facebook Farm Extension

= Explain Idea =
With agriculture as the most dominant economic drivers in some African countries, The Facebook Farm Extension is an online platform through Facebook which aims to build a growing movement of youth farmers online.
The Facebook Farm Extension aims to achieve 4 goals:
1.INSPIRE - to profile youth farmers (photos & videos) + map youth farmers
2.PROBLEM SOLVE - to provide a space for farmers to ask questions and receive advice (i.e. arming techniques, crop varieties, soil productivity and seasonal yields)
3.CONNECT - to provide an opportunities board to trade goods, learn about job opportunities, and learn about opportunities along the agricultural value chain (i.e. land availability, markets)
4.EDUCATE - to provide technical skills development on entrepreneurship and the full cycle of the agricultural value chain (both online & offline)
Each Facebook Farm Extension page is meant to be country-specific.
= Photo =

= Explain idea =
Some of the bottlenecks associated with youth farmers are:
Perceived negative image of farmers (poverty and uneducated)

Risky due to potential of failed crops

Lack of access to land

Lack of access to resources

Lack of knowledge building after school ends 
This idea was inspired by “Mkulima Young” (“Young Farmer” in Swahili) ( which was created by Joseph Macharia, a youth farmer himself, to build and nurture a growing movement of young Kenyan farmers online. His Facebook page currently has over 35,000 followers. His page has 3 focus areas:
1.Profiles youth farmers (photos & videos filed by Macharia’s team - all youth farmers)
2.Space for farmers to ask questions and receive advice
3.Provides a Trading Board to trade goods such as crops, livestock, fishlings and seeds
The Facebook Farm Extension builds upon “Mkulima Young’s” idea in order to (a) bring this idea to youth in other countries; (b) provide more opportunities for connection.
Three new ideas added to the Facebook Farm Extension:
1.Map of all youth farmers in a country: a map of all youth farmers and their crops will provide everyone with information on what each other is growing, thus bridging the gap between youth farmers within a country. This could later be built out on a Yelp-like platform to include organizations along the value chain, equipment share/rent, vacant land, etc.
2.Opportunities Board will allow farmers to trade goods, learn about job opportunities (as neighbors help each other, perhaps there are opportunities for rotations amongst different crops or work along the agricultural value chain), and learn about opportunities along the agricultural value chain (i.e. land availability, other markets to sell goods)
3.Training to provide technical skills development on entrepreneurship and the full cycle of the agricultural value chain (both online & offline). Having a full understanding of the value chain will help farmers to better understand their goods, market, and customers, and to inspire new entrepreneurial ventures in agriculture. Receiving a certificate can be used to show an individual’s knowledge on a specific topic, regardless of physical experience.
Farmers can take courses and receive a formal certificate on each area of the agricultural value chain for crops in their region. Some courses can be accessed through online readings and also offline through an Agriculture Training Camp which can be brought to community during off-peak seasons. (This could be incorporated into the “Pop Up Bus” idea with the use of modular furniture like mILES ‘store transformer’  to recreate different physical spaces within the agricultural value chain -  This idea could be further built out to include job rotations, etc.

Facebook is a free platform which can be accessed by anyone with an email address and internet access. Facebook is most popular amongst youth (average age of user in Kenya is 19) and it’s demand has propelled mobile operators to offer free limited Facebook in return for purchasing phone credit via mobile phone scratch cards. In addition, Mkulima Young has exemplified that Facebook is strong platform for youth farmers to connect.
= Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what’s in it for them? =
This idea benefits youth farmers with moderate access, either individually or through another farmer, to mobile phones, internet connectivity and Facebook access.
For example, this idea would benefit approximately 10 million youth farmers in Kenya.
Kenya’s Statistics
Population = 44.35 million

80% population below 35 years old

Population of farmers = 30 million

Population are young people between 18-34 years = 15 million

Average age = 19

Mobile subscribers 72%

Mobile internet subscribers 26% 
local youth farmers


specialists, teachers and entrepreneurs along the agricultural value chain

international organizations

Mkulima Young 
These partners can act as mentors, teachers, and funders.
= How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people? =
By creating a platform to connect with one another and learn new technical skills, this ideal will provide youth with employment opportunities, knowledge development, and spur entrepreneurship.
= What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations? =
Create a mock Facebook Farm Extension page example incorporating each of four aspects

Survey youth farmers to determine requested education around agricultural value chain

Develop curriculum for education training and share amongst youth farmers for feedback(I need help here!)
= What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further? =
What experiments can be tried to find out if this idea will meet it’s expectations?

How can a Facebook page be configured to incorporate the 4 goals?

What other aspects can be incorporated into this idea? What should be removed or edited? 
= The idea emerged from: =
An individual
= How do you envision your idea being implemented =
Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation


Join the conversation:

Photo of Alain MABOKO

Jennifer, this sounds great...
in my community very few number of people have access on internet, in rural community where agriculture in conducted(not even a project for peasants to use it) while they are the one interested by agriculture, what du you thing can a Country like DRCongo where 70% of lands are arable, how can youth here afford? also, could you share what is a short term effect on the idea?
thanks for your interesting idea. looking forward sharing more.

Photo of Jennifer Fong

Hi Alain! Apologies for the slow reply as I was out of town. The short-term effect of this idea would be to build a community of youth farmers online - a group they could relate to, ask questions, seek advice, be inspired by new ideas, and find new opportunities to improve their careers.

Your question about how can youth in rural areas afford the internet is a difficult question that I've wondered myself. There are a few global initiatives working on the spread of internet connectivity such as but more efforts are required. Exposure to the internet in rural areas could come from schools, community groups, sharing devices, etc.

Photo of Alain MABOKO

Hi Jennifer, thanks reaching out, your idea is great. a friend of mine(Leon) is organizing a ''farm school'' in Masisi territory (Eastern DR Congo), this area is most affected by on going wars and ethnic conflicts. his idea is to involve young people in farm activities rather than letting them serve in negative forces where many die or misconduct. this experience is appreciated here as to community want him to develop and do more for the youth. I think I will share with my friend Leon your idea as well. I hope youth in rural areas can do great thing if they afford internet facilities.

Photo of Jennifer Fong

Hi Alain! I think your friend Leon is extremely brave and I send him best wishes! Do you know if youth in Eastern DR Congo have access to mobile phones? If they cannot afford the internet, there are other ways to connect such as twitter/text messaging. If there are different community farms, as long as one person has twitter, he/she can than text the tweets to all of the others. I don't know how I can help you and your friend, but I'd be happy to!

Photo of Luisa Fernanda

Very interesting idea addressing a concrete need and user group.
Do you have insight into whether youth in rural settings are accessing Facebook, how often they use it and what do they use it for currently?

Photo of John V. Kimario

Hi Jennifer, Alain and Luisa. The ideas you gave and this Face book thought are great . Alain's worry is real. That, the "real" application may be limited to a very small group especially at this time of whereby foreign languages, say English, French, Spanish Chinese and others Chinese dominate on most popular Face book pages.

Thanks that, with time we shall witness a more rapid expansion of the user groups in "agrarian-prone" more peasant friendly languages..(please bear with me).

This push is mainly led by the business front; whereby stiff competition/fight for customers between the more successful telecommunication companies has given a leeway to coming up of other languages on the face book platform. They move ahead on their own to fund translations and integration of such languages into Face book pages.

Moreover, we all witness an influx of cheaper smart phones in the home (local) markets. this enhances access to once un-affordable technologies among the poor peasants. I witness more and more youth now can buy and log into their websites of interest to get; say football results, and chat among themselves at almost zero cost...

So, there is some optimism on my part on Jennifer's kind of virtual youth farming initiative.

To Alain and his friend me; a more gradual and cautious approach to raising expectations among youths who live and expect so much to happen to them, save them a life through an income boost!!!...we may need time and more research to deliver ... more

Allow me to share my small experience from Swahili speaking Tanzania: here as in many other countries, competitions between the mega telecommunication companies is really stiff...and bearing somehow “positive results” (you may disagree; allow me not to put names here).

As of now; one of the companies has an advert on all the popular TV news and fm radios, that people should go and take their "Swahili Face book"...and one will see or hear on the radio this old man who approached a customer service point for that company demanding him to give him Kiswahili Face book in Swahili;…he was simply helped to open up an account, and the old man managed to link up to ALL his friends and started chatting in his Language!!! It of course sound simplistic to such an old client…BUT its working very fast with youth.

I trust the Swahili Face book platform has made a difference so far in terms of users of the face book in this part of the world.

Lastly; the market here is full of used and new affordable mobile telephone sets.

Jennifer, as the phenomenon above keep hybridizing, your idea is truly going to get a fertile and well irrigated garden soil.

REMAINING CHALLENGE: Lets think now more about the ever declining interest in Agriculture among youth. What is being done in Kenya or the DRC to re-invent interest in agriculture among youth? Cheers. John

Photo of Guy Viner

Great to see you back from the research phase, Jennifer! Excited to see you continue fleshing out this idea