A tool for the participatory analysis of farmers on the social media

A tool for the participatory analysis of farmers on the social media

Today we would like to present an article about a participatory tool for analysing social media and discuss its advantages and challenges compared to classical social network analysis. 

The aim of this article is also to provide examples of how this tool, called Net-Map1 , has been used in different situations, such as sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. In addition, we will include the views of researchers on this tool.

Why is this of interest to farmers and other soil-related actors?

This article, and the use of this tool in particular, to analyse social networks can be very useful for farmers for several reasons:

  1. Understanding interactions: Agriculture involves different people and organisations, such as farmers, suppliers and consumers. With Net-Map, farmers can better understand how they interact and relate to each other. This helps them identify key people, existing connections and how they share resources and information.
  2. Finding opportunities for collaboration: By visualising social networks with Net-Map, farmers can discover opportunities to collaborate with other farmers or suppliers. They can find partners with whom to share knowledge, resources or markets. This encourages collaboration and information sharing, which can improve productivity and sustainability in agriculture.
  3. Make more informed decisions: By understanding the relationships and influences in the network, farmers can make better decisions. For example, they can identify the most effective intermediaries to reach markets or determine which communication channels are most efficient for disseminating sustainable farming practices. This helps them to optimise their strategies and get better results.
  4. Plan and manage resources: Net-Map assists farmers in resource planning and management. They can identify key resources available through network connections and analyse how they are distributed. This allows them to allocate resources more efficiently and use agricultural inputs such as water, fertilisers or pesticides more effectively.


The researchers analysed governance models, in relation to environmental management, in four different research projects. We clarify that a governance model refers to the way in which institutions and people involved in management and decision-making are organised

In the project, these governance models were analysed in four countries: Costa Rica, Germany, Tanzania and China, using Net-Map as an empirical research tool. 


The research was conducted through individual in-depth interviews with social network participants. During these interviews, the interviewees created and drew maps of the networks in which they participate. They themselves provided information on the influence and importance of the actors in the network, as well as on the personal benefits, food availability, learning and trust of the actors. 

The researchers also conducted a short survey with open-ended questions among six researchers who had participated in the studies to get their opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the Net-Map tool.


The authors discuss the advantages and challenges of Net-Map compared to classical social network analysis and provide examples of how the tool has been used in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

The research results concluded that Net-Map is a useful tool for analysing the relationships between actors in a social network and for identifying opportunities to improve collaboration and coordination in a variety of contexts. It also allows researchers and network participants to visualise and better understand the structure and dynamics of the network, as well as to identify key actors and the relationships between them.

In addition, the researchers highlighted that Net-Map is a participatory tool that involves network participants in the analysis process and allows for a deeper understanding of the perspectives and motivations of the actors in the network. 

However, some challenges and limitations of Net-Map were presented, such as the need for technical skills and knowledge for its effective use; as well as the possible subjectivity in the interpretation of the results and the difficulty in analysing large networks. 


This research has shown us that Net-Map is a valuable tool for social network analysis in various fields, such as sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. 

It enables farmers and other related actors to understand interactions, find opportunities for collaboration, make informed decisions, and plan and manage resources more efficiently. Its participatory approach involves network participants in the analysis process, providing a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives and motivations.

And while it presents challenges – and why not say, some limitations – such as the need for technical skills and the difficulty of analysing large networks, Net-Map offers an effective way to visualise and understand the structure and dynamics of social networks, identify key actors and foster collaboration and coordination to achieve stronger and more sustainable results.

You can visit the page where you can consult the publication by clicking here.

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