By: Vashti Kelly, Program Manager
There are an estimated 2.5 million farmworkers in the United States laboring in our fields. According to a NAWS Survey 95% of the immigrant farmworkers in the survey were Mexican-born; 3% were from Central America; and the remaining 2% from different countries. And, recently a number studies have been conducted on the topic of migrant farmworkers and mobile phones, finding that cell phone ownership among their sample populations is substantial.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Hispanic Consumer report, states Latino users are less likely to own a desktop computer than a mobile device, and it is by use of those mobile devices through which internet access is being gained. Despite this growing trend, the main barriers to technological access remain remoteness and financial wherewithal. It is not a secret that farmworkers do not earn a substantial income and with that comes choices, of which cell phones and technology are not always a priority. Taking this information into account, companies are beginning to develop new services directed specifically for low-income, Spanish speaking users. As a result, government agencies have begun to take note as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a branch of the Department of Labor, created a mobile application to serve as a tool for heat stress safety.
Although, technology may not be geared towards farmworker or Latino users this is an emerging market with benefits for both user and marketer. Technology and access to it have allowed farmworkers a bit of leverage when it comes to decisions about what work is available and where. Technology also has the potential to save lives, not only through healthcare but also through emergency notifications.