This booklet, published by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-European Union (EU), features 20 young people and three organisations that have been involved in the CTA youth project called ARDYIS (Agriculture Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society). In addition to portraying authors and highlighting their perspectives on youth involvement in agriculture using information and communication technologies (ICTs), the document presents summaries of best essays submitted for the contest "Youth finding solutions to challenges in agriculture and rural development using ICTs!", organised in 2010. Youth, aged from 18 to 25 years old, were invited to submit entries in four categories. The first category asked them to present two agricultural challenges and discuss how ICTs could be used to address them; the second category explored how ICTs could be used for effective advocacy and lobbying to promote agriculture; the third category targeted the use of ICTs to improve access to markets; and the last category allowed them to tell the story of a young person living in a rural area who has used ICT successfully or in an innovative way (even if the experience was not a success) for his or her work. The summaries of essays published here are grouped into three sections, based on the initial four categories.
In brief, the submissions received demonstrated that many young people are ready to strengthen their involvement in agriculture and are using ICTs such as mobile phones and computers to do so. According to CTA, agriculture in African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries faces many challenges. While youth unemployment is critical in most countries, many young people perceive agriculture as an unattractive career option. It is therefore evident that a well-supported agricultural sector, strengthened by the use of new information technologies, would be an effective strategy. "Agriculture has to become more attractive, viable and offer the youth improved opportunities for income. It is this that CTA-supported youth related initiatives aim to bring about."
The report also presents the results of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards), awarded in May 2012. This contest aimed to highlight the issues, successes, and challenges faced by young people in agriculture and to encourage the production of information and the use of ICTs by young farmers' groups and organisations interested in the topic.
The ARDYIS project is a CTA initiative which aims to improve opportunities for youth in agriculture and rural development through the use of ICTs. It is implemented in collaboration with an Advisory Committee composed of several ACP organisations: FARA (Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa); AYF (African Youth Foundation); ANAFE (African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education); Yam Pukri Association; PAFPNet (Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network); CAFAN (Caribbean Farmers' Network).
Email from Nawsheen Hosenally to The Communication Initiative on January 15 2013; and ARDYIS website, January 15 2013. Image credit: Gregory Warner