Youth, agriculture, food security and social media.

Social media is not just about “posting cat videos”. As young farmers and agripreneurs, social media gives us ample opportunities to promote our ideas or businesses online.

I am always reminded of one of my friends. He lives in a mountainous area in my home country of Georgia, 1,700 meters above sea level. He has no electricity, Internet or even adequate mobile network coverage. He is a farmer and some 30 to 40% of his produce used to be wasted because he could not reach the market.

The only way he has found to overcome his challenge is by regularly walking almost 20 kilometers to the next village where he has access to the Internet. And indeed, he then does find customers with the help of social media.

In my view, if a young entrepreneur does not use social media, he/she misses out on numerous marketing opportunities. Social media has been indispensible in promoting my own mushroom farming business and  enables me to interact with my customers. I am also able to go through my clients’ tweets and Facebook updates and I can then get an insight into what they need. It has been really useful in helping my company formulate marketing strategies that address my clients’ needs.

What has helped me even more is the online network I joined through the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) platform. YPARD gave me the opportunity to communicate with other young professionals as well as create, share and exchange information about many topics including our career interests.

For example after I took part in the Youth Agripreneurs Project (YAP). After I published my project, many entrepreneurs from other countries contacted me through the different social media tools. I had not realized there were so many young people involved in the same mushroom farming business. They shared many valuable experiences with me, which contributed immensely to my learning.

I would go as far as saying that interactive communications has allowed young professionals to realize their potential and even contribute to the development of agriculture by implementing innovative methods. As a result, I sense that there are more and more young people who are interested in this sector, putting their energy, education and experience in the field for the development of agriculture.

The 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS43) will be another important event where I will be very keen to build links with agricultural entrepreneurs from other countries. I am also convinced that my participation at #CFS43 will be widely covered by the Georgian media. I hope that this further encourages people in Georgia and elsewhere to realize that food security and sustainable agriculture offers real prospects to ambitious youth from any background.

I am very grateful to the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) for giving me this opportunity and for partnering with the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to coordinate live social reporting at the #CFS43. Their focus on agri-food research and innovation is very much appreciated since it really delivers the best development outcomes to resource-poor farmers and rural communities.

I also hope that YPARD, CFS and GFAR continue to jointly work on giving more opportunities to young professionals like myself. These opportunities ensure that youth are not stuck on a remote mountain top by themselves, but contribute to fundamental developmental changes, which in turn benefit people’s lives and livelihoods as well as help youth face the challenges of food and nutrition security.

Blogpost and photo by Melano Dadalauri, #CFS43 Social Reporter –melanodadalauri(at)gmail.com, based on an article previously published on the YPARD’s blog.

This post is part of the YPARD social media coverage for the 43rd session of the Committee on World Food Security (#CFS43), a project supported by GFAR.
This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

01/10/2016 0:00

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