Memes are all around us and as most of them are funny we do not hesitate to tag our friends as soon as we see one. The rise of the meme culture has also led to the decline of most people reading on social media leading to the reduction in the average attention span of the reader. So how does one highlight important informative posts to pique the interest of a social media user? A Tamil Nadu youth seems to have found the solution by using memes to educate people about agriculture through his Facebook page. His unconvential method definitely seems to be working.
If you are from Tamil Nadu, you may have come across the page ‘Learn Agriculture’ on Facebook. The one-month-old page was started by 24-year-old Santhosh, a BSc in Agriculture from Annamalai University in Chidambaram, who resides in Thiruvarur district in the south Indian state. The posts teach people about agriculture through various memes. There's a difference though; instead of rib-ticklers, these memes have popular faces like Ajith, Jyothika, Sivakarthikeyan and Priya Anand among other actors highlighting social issues, including creating awareness about the harmful use of chemicals in food increasing incidence of cancer.
The Facebook page run by Santhosh, called Learn Agriculture, have over 97,000 likes and over 99,000 people following it everyday, asking about organic farming and various other issues they face with agriculture. On an average, his posts get over 1,000 likes and shares regularly. While Santhosh is busy during the day with the farm in his backyard, he uses the nights to reply to queries from various people all over the country.
The queries range from how to deal with plants that aren't flowering to plants that are being eaten by bugs and how to deal with them. The followers also come back to tell him about the progress since his last advice to them.
Asking Santhosh about his followers, he says, “Around 70 percent people who message me are from Tamil Nadu but a lot of people from Bengaluru and Kolkata connect with me apart from other cities.” He even gets as many as 150-200 messages along with pictures everyday from people asking for tips to boost produce on their organic farms.
With the rising popularity of his page, Santhosh is faced with the task of replying in English to messages from people from other cities, which is not really his strength. But he gets by with a little help from his friends and the people he meets daily, who have taken it upon themselves to teach him enough English so that he can converse with his non-Tamilian followers. The 24-year-old Thiruvarur boy is also currently being helped by an NGO to learn English so he can answer all the queries put forward by his followers.
On asking what prompted the Agriculturist to start the page, Santhosh says, “All the people in my district use chemicals in farming which have adverse effects on health but they do not want to change their ways. I want to make people aware of the benefits of organic farming, so that they can change the way farming is done in India."
Santhosh also runs a lesser-known Facebook page called Azhvar Memes, that addresses issues through memes about the same subject, along with his Learn Agriculture page.