Can We Fight Hunger Through Social Media?

Can we learn about the local particularities of food security through social media analysis?

It was intriguing when DuPont came to us with this question says Crimson Hexagon.

Analyzing social media conversation provides a compelling way to listen to the unique experiences and topics related to food security.

Nyane, 2, left, sits on his sister’s lap while waiting for World Vision staff to weigh and measure Nyane’s nutritional status at a clinic in South Sudan. The country is among the worst spots for hunger. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Though food security – including food access, affordability, and safety – is a pressing global issue, however, the concerns and challenges and the opportunities for policy and technological improvements are specific to different locations around the world.

Therefore, social listening is key to providing regional insight without the burdens and expense of on-the-ground research and complements the many efforts by DuPont and other companies and organizations to understand food security topics and relieve world hunger.

The Impact Of Social Media In The Food Industry

They say that one of the best ways to get to someone’s heart is through his stomach.

But which is the best way for a brand to make customers fall in love with their products? Answer, as you all were thinking is Social Media.

October 16th was World Food Day and although one of the main issues to discuss is climate change and its effects in food and agriculture, we want to make an approach to the use of Social Media in tackling this challenges.

See also SUPPORTING FARMERS ON WORLD FOOD DAY

Social media influence over food shopping habits has been small compared to other industries, but nowadays every brand has their Community Managers working hard to increase the engagement and number of followers.

Conclusions have been drawn from some most important brands in the market been analyzed:

First, look healthy.

Today’s culture is based on a healthy body, it doesn’t matter what product are you selling, you have to emphasize the most natural and healthy qualities of your brand.

If it is high on calories, for example, it could be a good energy source for sports or hard working days.

If it is made out of natural ingredients, why not show the audience how clean and pure is the manufacturing process?

According to the IAB’s V Annual Study of Social Media, sponsored by Adglow, 85% of the audience is following influencers through Social Media, so seems like a great idea to get the influencer that suits better your brand to advertise your products.

Targeting the right audience is a must.

Target Audience

The food and beverage online shopper profile in Spain is a working woman between 35 and 47 years, shops every fortnight and is mother of toddlers, also uses frequently social media to get information about products, prices and discounts.

Keeping in mind this, you should target your advertising near this collective to drive your sales and improve your engagement.

Keep an eye on risks, although the benefits of using Social Media are obvious, you might have some considerations with your Community Manager.

First, you have to avoid negative interactions as much as possible as long as bad jokes or inappropriate comments, your public image is one of your most valuable features and damaging it could be very harmful.

To sum up, to make your food and beverage company make profit from Social Media, you have to develop an strategy that creates engagement and emotional links, improve brand awareness and have a nice clean and healthy brand image.

This way you will not only fill audience’s cupboards with your products, you will also get to their hearts.

Now, to something a little bit different.

Social Networking Key To Food Security

In 2015, when the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were officially adopted, the clock began ticking on an ambitious mission: ending global hunger by 2030.

At the time, that target seemed achievable; during the previous 15 years, the number of undernourished people on the planet had been reduced by half, a staggering achievement attributed largely to international investment in agricultural and economic infrastructure.

And then the world got hungrier again.

In 2016, the number of people without enough to eat increased to 815 million, up from 777 million the year before.

What happened?

Part of the answer is as old as civilization itself: droughts, floods, conflict, and displacement have hurt harvests and weakened output.

But a more intangible factor is no less important: many of the networks on which farmers have traditionally depended to cope with these disasters have been lost or degraded.

Ending global hunger is not just about breeding drought-resistant corn; it is also about having a plan for when that corn fails anyway.

In other words, it is as much about re-imagining social networks as it is about deciding what goes into the ground.

For the world’s poorest smallholder farmers and pastoralists, unpredictability is the only constant.

To mitigate risk, people in rural areas have always relied on their personal networks for information to help them in weather crises, improve productivity, and limit crop losses.

In return, these relationships have facilitated the exchange of information and goods, diversified diets, strengthened farming techniques, and guarded against hunger.

Today, though, farmers’ personal networks are weakening.

Farms are being hit more frequently by severe weather, and violent conflict is increasing in poverty-stricken regions; these and other variables are uprooting farmers everywhere.

While people have always left their homes in search of safety or opportunity, a record number of people currently are on the move.

All of these changes are negatively affecting traditional social structures that communities depend on for survival, and insufficient attention is being paid to these structures’ role in ensuring food security.

If global hunger is to be eradicated, the underpinnings of rural resilience must be supported, expanded, and diversified.

One of the best ways to do this is by investing in new technologies that enable farmers to connect with information and institutions that can decrease uncertainty and mitigate risk.

According to a 2017 working paper by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security, some of the most promising innovations in rural agricultural are technology — and service based.

With access to data, markets and financial services, farmers can plant, fertilize, harvest and sell products more effectively.

Use of mobiles phones in farm

At the moment, these types of innovations are not featured prominently in most hunger-alleviation strategies.

But that is slowly changing, especially as more people in emerging economies connect to mobile networks, and apps designed to collect and share agricultural information become increasingly accessible.

For example, in Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, local extension services are delivering real-time weather data to vegetable farmers via SMS.

In West Africa, private companies such as Ignitia are expanding the accuracy and precision of SMS weather alerts to remote farmers.

In Mongolia, rural herders receive information about disease outbreaks to help them maintain the health of their livestock.

And farmers throughout the Global South are turning to SMS-based services for technical support that allows them more easily to adopt new crops and growing techniques, with benefits for both natural resources and household income and nutrition.

Connectivity also improves the functioning of markets by allowing farmers and herders to access accurate price information, coordinate transport and other logistics, and facilitate easier exchange of perishable but nutritious foods such as animal products and vegetables.

Mobile money and price information also enable pastoralists to adjust herd sizes to changing environmental conditions, while enabling farmers to secure seeds and fertilizer for future harvests.

Furthermore, by enabling the quick and secure transfer of funds, mobile-banking services allow producers to access markets more efficiently, reduce their transaction costs, and tap into higher-value market sectors.

Mobile payment systems are also facilitating remittances from urban to rural areas, an increasingly important component of rural livelihoods.

Of course, the mere existence of this technology will not end hunger.

The challenge is to broaden access to all of these tools, and to ensure that they meet the needs of the farmers who use them.

This demands that mobile technologies take into account differences in gender, education and resource levels among farmers, and are responsive to changing circumstances.

The impact and success of these tools and programs should be monitored and evaluated, with ineffective approaches being improved or replaced.

For hundreds of millions of people, information is the difference between food security and hunger.

But, amid the triple threats of climate change, violent conflict, and mass migration, how that information is gathered and shared is changing.

Farmers’ personal networks are now global and online.

To feed a rapidly changing world, we must use new technology to re-imagine the oldest form of risk mitigation: community.

Compiled by NNATE Florence Nkechi

 

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