Rajkot-based agriculture entrepreneur Dinesh Tilva has turned popular social media app WhatsApp into a classifieds marketplace that allows farmers to trade goods such as grains, vegetables, seeds, irrigation equipment and tractors, among others.
He moderates all the ads and broadcasts them to nearly 1,500 contacts in his smartphone. Most of these contacts are farmers, while some are traders of fertilisers, seeds, farm equipment, while a few are agents dealing in land and property.
“I started this about two years ago and now I am connected to nearly 1,500 farmers and traders. They send me a post and I broadcast it through WhatsApp,” Tilva says, adding that such is the flooding of posts that every morning he has to format the app. Farmers from across Gujarat, mostly from Saurashtra and central parts, find the system beneficial for them.
“This practice is very convenient for us. If we wanted to buy a Gir-breed cow, it usually takes an entire day to locate one and if it isn’t fit, you just waste the day. But now, we can see the picture of the cattle and decide accordingly. It saves time, energy and money,” says Jagani of Kuvadva village.
“We get valuable information through this. It gives us the power to negotiate directly with the buyer or seller,” said Kher Vanrajsinh from Halvad, who recently posted an ad to sell 20 kg garlic.
Tilva says most farmers own entry-level smartphones which are compatible with WhatsApp. “Those who are unable to participate in the system are assisted by their peer or relatives,” says Tilva.
Tilva has also installed the app on his desktop computer and says he is a one-man army and does not charge for the service.