COVID-19 has affected everyone this year and those involved in the agriculture sector are no different.
Some areas which have been hit hard are agricultural shows, livestock sales and other events which have either been cancelled or have had the number of attendees limited due to social distancing protocols. This has resulted in online platforms becoming increasingly popular as a way to market farm products.
College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) Beef and Sheep Adviser Noel McNeill said: “Like all business owners, farmers have had to learn and adapt quickly to the use of online platforms to continue trading. This could be purchasing machinery or equipment through farm related websites or using online platforms for purchasing livestock through local markets from the comfort of their own home.”
Since Covid-19 restrictions came into force in mid-March the use of social media has become ever more popular within the farming community. Due to the current restrictions in place CAFRE advisers have been using a wide range of different communication channels to maintain contact with farmers who are members of Business Development Groups (BDGs).
How a farm business can use online platforms to their advantage was discussed at recent BDG training events facilitated by Noel.
This included using online platforms to sell livestock. The key points highlighted included the importance of using high quality images to market stock, uploading posts at peak times of activity, this is normally between 7pm and 10pm to increase exposure.
The use of ‘tagging’ relevant friends or followers to the post to ensure it reaches a wider audience through views, likes and shares.
Finally, on classified marketplaces exposure can be increased by paying extra to feature or spotlight your advertisement so it appears at the top of relevant searches for a period of time.
The Business Development Groups Scheme is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and is part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.