E-Agriculture

Marina Cherbonnier

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I would keep my "youth supporters'" cap here. Here are some suggested activities towards improving rural communication policies and services, by involving young people:

- Boosting online platforms and social media interactions among young professionals, for them to share information, stories and ideas via different channels of communications

- Supporting young professionals to attend key ICT4AG events and agricultural development events where they can contribute actively to discussions on policies and better services that enable ICT4AG

- Providing training on political awareness for young professionals to get actively involved in policy process and making; and training on (online and on-the ground) communications 

- Engaging young people in all the activities planned, from design to evaluation.

Involving young professionals into policy discussions, processes and making will be key in promoting innovative enhanced use of community media and ICTs, and other rural communications services, The young generation is ICT savvy, "social"-oriented, they are innovative and thus have a huge potential in developping these means. As we know policies frame/nfluence what can be concretely implemented on the ground. Young people, by being on board on strategic and policy level can help bridge practice and policy and bring strategic solutions to real, concrete challenges.

Interesting point by IICD reports: young people, thanks to ICTs, gain credibility within their societies. Indeed, ICTs mean access to information, knolwedge, active information and knowledge sharing - they thus gain voice, a certain "power" and leading or advisory roles into their communities.

Let me come back to this point in order to share key points shared by CTA youth group on “The use of ICTs to strengthen link between youth and family farming”. (currently discussed)
- ICTs help promote youth involvement in agriculture by enhancing their opportunities, motivations and capacities.
- ICTs also contribute to improving youth livelihoods, agricultural modernisation and creating benefits throughout value chains.
They discussed:
a. how can we make better use of ICTs to address these issues the specific challenges faced by youth in family farming?b. Do we have examples of projects/initiatives in this area?

They highlighted that there are different types of young people: 

  1. Youths fully and naturally passionate about agriculture (lower percentage)
  2.  Youth with current high unemployment rates trying to tap into agriculture for income generation.
  3.  youths with stable backgrounds ( i.e. parents/ guardians have resources such as capital, infrastructure, large social and connections)
  4. Rural Youths with, no access to capital, resources, knowledge. (Constitute majority)

Main challenges are:

  1. I view it as different classes of youth it will require different ICT initiatives. Some rural areas in Africa, are really undeveloped, without mobiles networks, no electricity.
  2. Accessing relevant information or content to upscale their family farming.
  3. Market information, access and finance.
  4. Tackling the negative image of agriculture by giving a positive image agriculture through success stories of young people in agriculture

Example of successful initiatives:

Savannah Young Farmers Network (SavaNet)
Their success is based on:
1. A youth participatory approach from A to Z in the development of ICT applications aimed at addressing the challenges youth face in family farming. 
2. Innovative approach to suit the needs of young family farmers with less or no formal education.
3. The set up of ICT4Ag centers in rural communities:  a one stop centre to practically harness diverse ICT applications while promoting their active engagement in Agriculture for increased Agricultural productivity.
Check their Audio Conferencing for Agricultural Extension (ACE) project  - as published in the ICT update magazine, p.7: http://publications.cta.int/en/publications/publication/ICT065E/

Mkulima Young -

1.     over 35,000 likes on Facebook and very interactive space.
2.     Over 5,000 follower on twitter
3.     A very interactive website with over 2,000 hits daily and last month was top ten most searched website according to google in Kenya.

Moma's Farm Project, an initiative aimed at enhancing food security through promoting draught animal traction and saving labour among women farmers in Nigeria. The project is using ICTs to achieve its objectives through Reality TV shows and audio-visual documentation of its activities.The Project is fully present on the internet with Website: www.momasfarm.com, or tweeter @momasfarm, Facebook page: Moma's Farm Project. It is also available on Google+ and Youtube.

An initiative of Farm Radio International in Mali. The initiative is about an innovative reality radio series in Mali called Daba Kamalen, in Bambara, and FarmQuest, in English. The show was designed to encourage youth to consider farming as a profitable business, and not just a means of subsistence, by following six young candidates competing to be named “best new farmer.” (Learn more here: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2014/01/21/can-a-reality-show-really-deliver-aid-to-africa-yes/)

Hi all,

I agree with the points raised above by Walther, Raul and Enna.

I would add barriers related to the content itself - on the internet particularly:

- Language Barrier!

- The feeling of overload of information. There is so much to grasp that we may just not grasp anything of it.

- The quality of information - What is good information, what is bad information? How can one be critical enough and make a right judgement on what is provided to him/her as a "truth". That's without to say that too often the more accessible information isn't the more accurate!

- Humour, Satire and cultural background. We don't have all the same humour; irony, particularly, can not be perceived by all of us on a first place. This leads sometimes to quite "dangerous" interpretations and confusion on what to trust.

- Local versus Global - what am I supposed to find, as a Family Farmer, that could be of interest to me, my daily life and work in my area - particularly on the internet? How does the big picture relate to me and my conditions/my challenges/ my opportunities (be it national, regional and global)? What can I make of it  - on an economic, political, social, environmental level. Family farmers may feel completely disconnected from some content they find on the world wide web particularly, and they may not see the value of it, although these dynamics do impact their life and require them to be more informed.

These challenges are not faced by Family Farmers only, but they may call for specific answers for the case of Family Farmers. What do you think?

 

 

I'll look again at the broader picture and will let our peers give more concrete evidences and experiences to illustrate these. I see two key elements enabling ICT tools and communication services to engage family farmers better in accessing information and exchanging knowledge:

On a technical level:

ICTs are more and more easy to use even with limited technical knowledge - almost anybody can use at least some of the wide range of available ICT tools. They also offer a wide range of supports, with an increasing interest and access to videos, audio and visuals, in addition to writen information. This is quite a progress especialy in enabling illiterate people to share their knowledge. Also, the increasing use of mobile devices is a revolution in term of information access, notably in Africa. 

On a content level:

ICTs have increasingly adopted a "social" aspect. You don't have to deliver rocket science to be allowed to published your (nevertheless) pertinent information. Blogging, instant information, e-discussions and interactions enable family farmers to be consumer, disseminater and producer of information - to access and to exchange. I may emphasize the value of "telling stories", practice motivated by "social media", as an extension of this idea: there can't be fear of being wrong when people actually talk about what they know most: their day-to-day Life. Then, they get the chance to put it into perspectives through discussions and sharing of opinions and experiences with others. Last but not least, thanks to ICTs, target groups receive information fresher/within short delays (vs publications sent by post).

 

Hi Christiane, I really like your strong point on People - and not Technologies - being at the centre of everything. Indeed, ICT tools remain a mean towards higher development actions and achievements. This said, one may consider how much ICTs and communications processes (- among which Social media and interactions -) give to People a "Power" to take action , to be connected, to be heard, to interact...and ultimately to participate and work together.

Most importantly, and we observe it amoung young people: ICTs has a way to expand one's creativity and concrete initiatives by young people - individualy but also collectively (as a group). I see in this, a way for young people to be more motivated to take an active role in family farming. The Young generation's implication per se thus contribute to lasting family farming, but also to more innovative and creative family farming practices for viable solutions. 

Last but not the least, not only ICTs enable family farmers to get useful information for their daily work, but also it helps them to get involved in broader discussions and decisions making processes: be them on national, regional and global issues that do impact their activities (climate change, economic regulations etc). Farmers are thus able to voice and contribute in tackling their very practical day-to-day challenges - notably with better linkages with research - but also to contribute in shaping those dynamics driven and regulated by broader political, economic, societal and environmental frameworks. ICTs support Family farmers in their activity by enabling them to get involved into the micro and the macro level in which their acitivites falls into ( - in the extent that farmers are aware about the impact global decisions have on their life) . 

Thanks, Alice. Yes, indeed, we are trying to follow simultaneously the Youth in ICT4Ag discussions and we shall contribute in bringing our ARDYIS peers's perspectives into this more general e-Agriculture forum discussion. 

Hi all, glad to be part of this! I may complement Michael's thoughts here. Communications and ICTs enable people to receive and share information useful for their farming activities and for managing their activities more effectively (data, contact, finance etc). This may thus contribute to making their activities more viable. But beyond this, these modern means facilitate better human (in)formal interaction, entertainment and information access for their personal fulfilment, which I see as a strong mean to make rural areas more enjoyable, to tackle the feeling of isolation and to fight against migration to urban areas. A big part of urban advantages reaches out rural areas thanks to ICTs. As an overall, ICTs and communications - to me - "kill" all the existing incentives to run away from Farming activities. What do you think?