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World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) 2011: Better life in rural communities with ICTs

Today si the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) 2011: Better life in rural communities with ICTs. More generally, the WSIS Forum – World Summit on the Information Society Forum- is going on from yesterday 16th till 20 May, in Geneva. We have invited you, YPARD members and other Young Professionals ICTs enthusiasts, to share your views on ICTs, Agriculture and Young Professionals. Read Chrispine and Darlington contributions!    Chrispine blog : his participation to the “Youth, ICT and Agricultural innovation workshop” in Kenya. Chrispine participated some weeks ago to the workshop : “Youth, ICT and Agricultural innovation workshop” in Kenya, organized by ACTS in partnership with YPARD. He emphasizes in his blog on YPARD website what he sees like two main ICTs key roles:
  • ICTs might help keep Young Professionals in rural areas
  • ICTs enable practitioners to reach experts information for better farming activities.
He addresses the importance of YPARD activities to focus on ICTs awareness and skills development for YPs. This needs to be done locally through meeting and trainings but also by connecting people more globally for more partnership and information sharing. He particularly expresses how he himself gained awareness on the key role of ICTs thanks to this workshop he attended, and how by benefitting himself from YPARD and partners activities, he is willing to contribute to further empowerment, locally, through the creation of an agricultural center in his region. Still, he highlights very important challenges: -  A feeling of “mix up of which way to go between the Indigenous knowledge system on weather focusing and the modern system, and their application to address climate change; this makes them experience crop failures and thus low motivation to practice agriculture - Lack of income coupled with poverty is making it hard for many youth to change their perspectives; they think agriculture is for the old, and a punishment for the youth. - Lack of access to vital agricultural information to youth in local areas, and this is even made worse for the fact that there is absence of networks and platforms to share the information”   YPARD mission and willingness is actually to try and address these challenges through its platform: by soliciting networking, disseminating information and capacity building opportunities, generating discussions and addressing thematics which could get agriculture a more attracting activity for Young Professionals.  Like Chrispine, contribute to the debates, share your views, express suggestions, for YPARD to address YOUR needs. YPARD is YOUR community! Read Chrispine’s post on his blog! Wanna express yourself? Create a blog and start posting your articles/experiences/stories/testimonies on ARD (Mind to log in first! ) Some difficulty to get started? Write to info@ypard.net for assistance!      Darlington contribution on YPARD forum, on his experience and expertise in ICTs for Agriculture Development in Zambia Darlington asserts that the main advantage of ICTs and information in general is how it can address the weak research-extension-farmer linkages. In other words, ICTs would help farmers to get information from experts for effective action on field. He described activities going on in Zambia: - The SMS Internet based platform to improve farmer productivity in Zambia: farmers can ask questions to agricultural experts through SMS for quick and reliable answer. - A number of radio listening groups called ‘Radio Farm Forum Groups” set up in rural communities all over the country (among other television broadcasts and printed materials including newspapers in parallel with the mainstream extension services). People were encouraged to listen to the radio programs with the motto of ‘Listen, Discuss and Act”. They indeed were invited to discuss on the programme and provide feedbacks for further reports on national levels and dissemination. Some key positive points What strikes is how much the Zambian government gives a hand and address local issues on a national level. Indeed, there is a great effort on feeling the gap “between farmers, programme producers and the agricultural specialists in the Ministries of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Livestock and Fisheries Development and other relevant agricultural institutions in the country”. The commitment of the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) is very valuable as well. He also mentions the financial advantage of the current projects, especially thanks to the commitment of the Government for better prices and project management on a national level. The SMS service is cheaper comparing to the discussion report forms, this latter being quite expensive and time consuming. Challenges The improvement of the information services to the farming community and of the extension officers activities remains a challenge. The lack of extension officers of the Department of Agriculture still remains a critical information link between researchers and farmers; they only count 1 extension officer for 1000 farmers! Please, do not hesitate to contribute to this discussion and share your insights on the forum: . (Mind to log in first)