Farmers share cow photos, tips on new social network

Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:25pm EST
 
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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Instead of uploading pictures of friends and family, members of a new Argentine social network share photos of soybean fields and press the "like button" on the latest tractor models.

Building on the success of well-known social networks such as Facebook, Argentina's SojaBook (www.sojabook.com) -- which means "SoyBook" in English -- has found fertile ground in the South American country.

As well as being one of the world's biggest suppliers of soybeans and other farm goods, Argentines are also among the world's biggest social network users.

"SojaBook wants to connect farmers with their everyday needs," said Mariano Torrubiano, a 31-year-old Argentine lawyer who founded the site last month.

"It really struck me once when I saw a farmer in his tractor with his netbook on one side and his iPod on the other," Torrubiano said. "While he was sowing the fields he was totally connected to a social network and listening to music he'd downloaded from the internet."

Sojabook has a modest 1,000 users so far, but Torrubiano said he soon hopes to reach 10,000 -- even if the topics on discussion might not appeal to a mainstream audience.

At a recent Sojabook discussion group on the wheat trade, user Nestor Fernando Cunha recommended storing stocks in silo bags until global commodities prices rise again.

A notice popped up minutes later: "Sale of fields in La Rioja province. Contact me," Silvina Vaccarezza wrote on SojaBook's front page.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Luis Andres Henao)