Ask a young person what they wish for their future, and very few will mention agriculture.
Whether as a farmer, researcher or extension officer, the production of food tends to be a last resort, not the positive choice of an ambitious young man or woman.
This of course raises a fundamental question: who will grow the crops to feed the world?
…writes Keron Bascombe in the intro of an article
he recently published in the New Agriculturist.
Keron, a young agricultural professional from Trinidad and Tobago, and an active blogger, was one of our 35 onsite social reporters at GCARD2, the recently held Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development. In a previous post we described the background and outputs of this project, which assembled 136 youngsters from 44 countries, and its coaching team of YPARD, CGIAR and GFAR.
Keron describes our GCARD2 capacity building project as “truly a life changing event for many of the young professionals who participated”. That by itself is already quite an achievement, I would think. But our ideas were bigger! We wanted to “Make agriculture cool again” and have our GCARD2 social reporting team engage the youth through a continuous effort, rather than just a blip, a flicker of enthusiasm.
Now, two months later, we can already see their entrepreneurial spirit was not a flicker, it sparked a bush fire! So, it was time to list their post-GCARD initiatives:
- Olawale Ojo, from Nigeria, started a series of “Cool to Farm” workshops, moving from city to city sharing the opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness with young Nigerians. As a group, these youth started a Facebook page and a blog. They rally youngsters via the #CoolToFarm Twitter tag, and got quite some exposure in the blogosphere as well as in the national press. To extend the Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development’s network, they set up a YPARD-Nigeria Facebook group. In a most recent effort, they organised a Tweet-Up, where people could ask questions about the production of maggots for fish farms via the #maggot4fish Twitter tag. — Olawale: Well done!
- At the other side of the world, in Kyrgystan, Meerim Shakirova worked with Olawale to set up a Go Green and Stay Cool Facebook page and its related @GoGreenStayCool Twitter account “to provide practical information and green innovation to ensure the preservation and protection of our environment and vulnerable communities”. While blogging about sustainability, Meerim also joined the ALL-5 and Forestday-6 social reporting team and made a series of video interviews for the #ALLForest events, highlighting the role of agriculture and forestry at the December COP-18 conference in Doha. — Meerim, hats off!
- Nawsheen Hosenally, from Mauritius, also part of our COP-18 support team, continued her social media exploits with a Storify page on the CTA ARDYIS project, an upgrade of her blog. Nawsheen strengthened the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) ARDYIS project’s social media outreach via their Facebook page and @ardyis–cta Twitter account. Applying her skills acquired during the GCARD2 project, she also contributes to the social reporting and marketing for upcoming International ICT for Agriculture (ICT4A) Conference organised by CTA and partners in November 2013. — Nawsheen: You Rock!
- Now, switching Malawi, Msekiwa Matsimbe, brought the NEPAD Fish Node project into the social media spotlight with a new blog, and a Youth For Fish Program Facebook page and @FishYFFP Twitter account. Msekiwa now also supports the Facebook page for the African Fisheries Experts Network. — Go, Msekiwa, Go!
- Back in Asia, Dinesh Panday ran a YPARD Awareness Campaign, promoting the cause of young professionals at agricultural colleges of Nepalese universities, with a total of 296 participants. — Thumbs up, Dinesh!
- Machteld Schoolenberg, from the Netherlands, continues to manage the GCARD LinkedIn group. She started her ReadSpreadKNow – connected to her daily Paper.li publication and The Accidental Post Tumblr blog. She is our “administrator” of the Ag4Dev_Food Twitter list, … Veel geluk, Machteld !
- Codrin Paveliuc-Olariu, the Romanian in our team, collects tweets on foodsecurity on his daily paper.li edition, challenges the world of agricultural and rural policies on his “Learn, Share, Change” blog, and has become one of the most active Tweeps in our team. Check him out: @CodrinPO !
- Jieying Bi, from China, uses RenRen to post the YPARD blogs 良好的工作！
- In India, Sridhar Gutam intensified his advocacy for open access in India through his blog, used in tandem with its Facebook page and @OpenAccessIndia Twitter account. — A nobel cause, Sridhar!
- Idowu Ejere, from Nigeria, is now working on the social reporting for the upcoming FARA’s African Agricultural Science Week. Yashpal Singh Saharawat took the initiative for the National Workshop of Young Agricultural Professional in India, and Emmie Kio is advocating for the use of social media at her current organisation.
These are just a handful of initiatives these young professionals started. And we want to expand this. Why? Well, as an answer to Keron’s question: “Who will grow the crops to feed the world?“. As he replies himself: “Ultimately, there can only be one answer: young people.”
So one of our approaches is: If we mobilize young agricultural professionals, through social media, they will enthuse their brethren and sisters. And maybe, just maybe, we will then turn agriculture a “young” rather than an “aging” profession.
Are you a young professional and interested in the power of social media to bring out your messages? Join our (very) active YPARD social media team administrated by YPARD’s Marina Cherbonnier. Send her a “I want to be part of it”-email via: marina.cherbonnier (at) ypard.net and she will plug you into the team.
We are young, and we are going to change the world. Watch us!
Picture courtesy Peter Casier (CGIAR)
Blog crossposted from CGIAR.org.