"It was difficult to imagine that almost 95 tonnes of my cabbage would rot," says Kannaiyan Subramanian who tweeted a video of his cabbage farm, asking for help.
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With the lockdown in full swing, social media has become the best way to stay connected with the world and keep your loved ones updated. It also has proved its mettle as a powerful tool which connects people in need with those who have the resources, means and the intention to help others—case in point, Kannaiyan Subramanian. A farmer from Arachalur, in Erode, Tamil Nadu, who harnessed the power of Twitter to save his efforts and crop from going to waste.
And the social networking platform did not disappoint!
With 95 tonnes of cabbage, Subramanian’s farm was ready for harvest. But with no buyers, he could see his Rs 4 lakh investment going to waste. It was at this point that the farmer came up with an ingenious plan to save his efforts, his crop and also feed the needy. He tweeted about it!
The tweet included a 15-second video with visuals of his cabbage crop:
My cabbage in 3.5 acres are not able to harvest due to lockdown and crashing prices in TN border of KA. I have invested more than rs. 4lakhs. Can any corporate house extend a helping hand by buying from me at cost & ca distribute to poor& needy@RNTata2000@anandmahindra pic.twitter.com/IUWHxdnNVH
— Kannaiyan Subramaniam (@SuKannaiyan) April 18, 2020
The 18 April tweet went on to receive 340,000 views and counting and helped him get buyers for his crop.
One of the first ones to bail him out was a Chennai-based startup, WayCool Foods, a social enterprise that has helped more 35,000 farmers scale up their farming operations. The startup pitched in to help Subramaniam by procuring tonnes of cabbage from his farm at Rs. 5.5 Kg.
“I was truly overwhelmed when I first saw that the tweet was going viral. My son showed me the number of retweets and the comments on the post that I had shared. It was amazing to see how our citizens were willing to help people during the lockdown,” the 50-year-old tells The Better India (TBI).
A few days after the tweet went viral, many people and officials put in their orders to buy Subramaniam’s farm produce. Many charitable trusts and NGOs too purchased lots of 2000-3000 Kg.
By 28 April, Subramaniam had sold 42 tonnes of his harvest.
“As a result of the tweet, I was able to connect with many people who individually came and collected my produce. Another such friend bought 4000 Kg of my harvest and distributed it to 3000 rural agricultural labourers,” informs Subramaniam. He also requested the Southern Railways to help him transport his produce from Erode to Chennai. The Railways were quick to respond and aided him in transporting 3 tonnes.
Furthermore, Subramaniam has also donated 12 tonnes of his cabbage to the tribal communities in the Nilgiris and Thalavady.
“My aim was not to gain a profit. I sold most of my produce at Rs.2.5/Kg and barely broke even. I just didn’t want to see tonnes of my cabbage rotting away while there were so many people starving in our country,” Subramaniam shares.
Desperate times need desperate measures, and Subramaniam’s divergent thinking is proof that social media if used correctly, is a useful tool. It also goes to show that if more farmers are taught and motivated to use other channels of communication, it can lead to unexpected results.
“Today, the post has got more than 340,000 views on Twitter, and I’m glad to say that I’ve been able to sell most of my produce. Most farmers don’t have access to social media. So I’m currently trying to help other farmers sell their produce,” Subramaniam tells TBI.
If you wish to support Kannaiyan Subramanian, you can contact him at 9444989543
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)