Spanish “agroinfluencers” are hoping to drag rural farming into the digital world by making social media stars of their newborn calves and gleaming tractors.
A scheme in Navarre, northern Spain, will see farmers trained on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram so they can show people their world and how it is changing.
“There is a lot of ignorance about farming life,” said Pello Sarratea, 29, a local cattle farmer who has posted pictures on Instagram of the hills where he tends to his animals.
“I think it is important that people in the urban world – and also the rural world – learn more about how the meat ends up on their table,” he told The Telegraph
Six farmers have been selected to take part in the hour-long sessions, led by a social media trainer and paid for with a grant of nearly €12,000 (£10,300) by local authorities.
The project was devised by the Union of Navarran Farmers, which felt that conventional media was failing to document farmers’ stories and explain the realities of agricultural work.
Mr Sarratea has also shared footage of the birth of some of his calves to increase understanding of animal husbandry.
“The point of this course is to teach farmers how to use the tools on social media to communicate with people,” he said,
Huge tractors glistening in the sun and snow-covered fields are among the images posted on the Instagram page of fellow farmer Alberto Alfaro, who produces cereal in Cascante.
Mr Alfaro, 39, said his newfound digital skills could benefit his business and would show how farming is changing.
“I want to show what agriculture is about, all the new technologies, like satellite imagery, precision agriculture to reduce the use of fertilisers and compost,” he told the El Pais newspaper.
“Then I want to show digitalisation. It is something which is starting in agriculture and in two years the whole world will have to be familiar with the processes.”
Mr Alfaro said he doubted that he would be raking in the cash like some Spanish YouTube stars.
“They are going to teach us to be agroinfluencers, but ending up with lots of money and living in Andorra? I think not,” he joked.
The three-month course, which will also teach farmers how to use conventional media to their advantage, hopes to shift perceptions of the industry among Spaniards and safeguard it for the future.
“This is a sector which is undervalued by society at times, especially by people who live in cities and do not know what they do,” Susana Villanueva, head of communication for the Union of Farmers and Ranchers of Navarra, told The Telegraph.
“In some ways these farmers help to stop villages from disappearing and their work can be important for sustainability. It’s a world which is not seen very often by some people.”