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YoBloCo Awards: The beginning of a journey...

On the occasion of the 3rd IAALD Africa Chapter conference, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) organised a series of activities in the framework of the ARDYIS project. These included the prize giving ceremony of the YoBloCo Awards and a consultative workshop under the theme "Using ICTs to strengthen youth opportunities in agriculture and rural areas".  Winners and some best participants of the YoBloCo Awards were invited to attend the Conference and participate in the ARDYIS activities from 20th to 23rd May 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Highlights of these activities can be read HERE. As one of the winners of the competition, I attended and participated in these events and had a very enriching experience.. As soon as I arrived in Johannesburg, I recognised some of the young participants at the airport and it was really nice  to actually meet the people I was communicating with on Facebook and Twitter in person. This meeting enabled youth from different countries and regions, who had the same vision and passion for agriculture and ICTs to network, interact, know each other and exchange experiences. According to me, the cultural exchange as well was a very important aspect since interacting with individuals from different regions and background enables us to have a global mindset and accept each other. During the consultative workshop, I was glad to share my passion for blogging with others through a presentation, in which some additional information on my blog and my blogging activities were provided. Together with 2 other bloggers who also made a presentation on their institutional blogs, we got some questions on our blogs from the workshop participants. While some questions were direct to the point, others really made us reflect on our blogging activities, the interactions and feedbacks from the audience, and the impact on the farming community. In other sessions, we got an over-view on the initiatives being undertaken by different organizations in the ACP region to involve youth in agriculture through ICTs. Regarding youth involvement in the YoBloCo Awards, it was observed that there was a lack of participation from the Pacific, Caribbean, Southern and Central African region. Among the suggestions that were given by the workshop participants to increase participation from youth in these regions, I believe that most effective way of doing it is to have youth as focal points in different regions, by building a network and disseminate the information through them. Furthermore, the existing participants should be involved in doing so by encouraging other youth around them to participate and get involved. In general, the workshop was an exhaustive and fruitful one as a lot of information and ideas were shared, and every participant got the opportunity to give his/her input regarding the YoBloCo Awards, projects on agriculture/youth/ICTs, and on the different presentations. The 3rd IAALD Africa Chapter Conference was a good exposure for the youth to have an over-view of how ICTs are being applied in Agriculture in different context and countries. There were exhibits (CTA, CABI, Emerald Publishing, FARA) showcasing e-agriculture initiatives, where free publications were given to participants and there were lucky draws as well, where some participants got some gifts. From the different presentations during the conference we saw examples of ICT aplications in agriculture (radio, mobile phones, social media etc.). Some of the youth also had the chance to share their experience and challenges faced in their e-Agriculture activities. It was also a good opportunity for youth to interact and network with professionals working on e-agriculture to exchange ideas or simply socialise.  As for the Award ceremony, it was a special one for me because it was the first time I won a 1st prize in a contest and that moment will remain memorable for me; The gala dinner, the people, the food, the music, the dance.. I liked all of them. The competition was tough, but it was totally worth it! :) For me ARDYIS is not only a project but a family connecting ACP Youth in Agriculture together and giving them opportunities. But it is up to us to grab these opportunities and this will depend on the objectives of the person about what he/she wants to do and how these opportunities may help him/her getting there. I have got a lot of opportunities for the past year through the ARDYIS project and YoBloCo Awards, and now that the competition is over, for me it is a new journey which is going to begin. Like many youth who are involved in Agriculture, I was also confused about what to do after my studies and what's next etc. But through these experiences, I have shared and also learnt a lot from others. In this process, I have found what I really want to do in life. Now I am building on these experiences to start my career and achieve my goals!  The ARDYIS project must have something special in it for I have been involved in the project for almost 2 years now. If you are also a youth interested in Agriculture and ICTs, then you should join the ARDYIS mailing lists and the Facebook Page to be updated on the project's activities and on issues related to Agriculture, Youth and ICTs.  Click on the following links to join:  ARDYIS English mailing list |  ARDYIS French mailing list |  ARDYIS Facebook Page