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"Agriculture has given me a voice in a world where youth not always get a say"

By Enricka Julien, public relations liaison, from Trinidad and Tobago.

I have always been passionate about agriculture and all the activities linked to this industry, which I believe came from growing up in the countryside, particularly during a time when Caroni (1975) Limited –a famous company in Trinidad and Tobago- was still involved in sugar cane manufacturing.

The beginning of a passion

My village, Hardbargain was traditionally involved in small scale farming but more so in planting sugar cane. Every morning on my way to school I remember I would see all the tractors and bull carts passing loaded with sugar cane and wonder how they turned it into the sugar I bought for mummy in the store. This was my quest for the answer to that question that really started my passion and propelled me eventually into this field. 

I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness, Minors Gender and Development, Communication and Extension from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad. In the meanwhile, my experiences in the work world covered areas such as land management, social media and events management.

At present, I am pursuing my Post Graduate Diploma in Land Administration with a focus on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and how it can be used in the development of a National Land Policy framework in my country. I believe that one of the best approaches to deal with food security is to ensure the generation of sustainable land management policies.

A foodie blogger

This passion is not only evident in my education but also my hobbies as a self proclaimed foodie. It’s not about cooking from a cookbook or from what I see on television. I like to be innovative and adventurous so I use local products and incorporate them into recipes in a non-traditional way, e.g. my carambola (“five fingers”) crumble, plantain balls and muffin and pumpkin recipes on my blog.

I started blogging about food to show that more value can be added to the food grown for us than what we already know. However, more research is required in this area to take value chains to the next step.

ICT4ag13 + Yobloco Awards 2013/2014 + Girls in ICTs

As a young person with all this passion and love for agriculture and information and communication technology (ICTs) I am humbled by the opportunities given to me over the last year and a half to be part of some very inspirational and fascinating agriculture related events. It first started with the blog I wrote for YPARD on Rural-Migration in Trinidad - my experience from this point repositioned my focus to share more about my agricultural experiences via social media.

I was selected as an onsite social media reporter at the ICT4ag13 in Kigali, Rwanda where I received as well a ‘Web 2.0 and social media’ training by the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) that changed the way I engaged with people via social media. Indeed a friend told me that my tweets were some of the few she was looking forward to reading because of the useful information these contain.

This encouraged me to enter the Yobloco Awards 2013/2014 where I was named one of the fifteen promising young women advocates in ICT and Agriculture by CTA. Additionally, I have participated in the debate on Girls in ICTs and many other local and international events related to agriculture.

Shaping my career in ICT4Ag

When I posted the tweet below it was a genuine expression of what ICTs and Agriculture have done for me.

Emricka Julien winning tweet #THANKS2FF Twitter contest

I look at my country and there’s that dearth with regards to the respect agriculture is given, as it’s not considered an important subject in schools. In fact, agriculture is taught as a hobby more than as something important that feeds the whole world's population.

I realize that the management of land and especially how it has been managed in Trinidad and Tobago has affected the food deficit and our ability to feed ourselves. This is why I decided to look at the policy aspect of agriculture and this led to my current field of study in land administration.

By educating myself in land administration policies regarding agriculture, GIS technology and from seeing how the state manages its agricultural holdings I now have an idea of what decisions can be made to improve land policies. I can then look to amalgamate all these ideas and come up with cohesive policies and frameworks to help developing agriculture in the country until it will be risen to the esteem it’s supposed to be at.