As a follow up to a capacity building program for youth by HEDA Resources Centre in collaboration with OXFAM in Nigeria and the government of the State of Osun with the theme “Promoting Youth Centred Activities in Raising Awareness and Mobilizing Public Support For Food Security And Livelihood Protection” in October 2012. The participants decided to use Social Media to raise their voices on behalf of the small-scale farmers in Nigeria. The social media network Twitter was used in showcasing the plight of these food producers all over Nigeria and practical solutions suggested.
The Campaign tagged “Youth Voice 4 Small Scale Farmers” (YV4SSF) was held between 28th and 30th of January 2013. Using the hash tag #yv4ssf a pre-campaign awareness was done to let online users and other young people and stakeholders join in the campaign .The youths had blog post prepared, reflecting the role of smallholders, what they go through and the need to support them so as to ensure food security. They also drew lessons from their visits to small scale farmers during the program in October 2012.
WHAT DO THE SMALL SCALE FARMERS NEED?
From the various interactions during the 3 days of the campaign here are a few of the numerous needs highlighted
- · Irrigation plans and system- this was repeatedly raised by a group of farmers from Abuja with the twitter handle @irrfaraa
- · Good road networks and other infrastructure that would make movement and marketing of goods possible
- · More private sector involvement needed so as to enable sales of produce
- · Argo-processing centers, to enable them add value their produce
- · Re-packaged extension workers and services that are up-to-date and meet the needs of the farmers
- · Policies have to be revisited to reflect enabling environment for the small scale farmers to strive
- · Proper land tenure systems that favor long time occupation were also stresses.
ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The social media tool TWITTER really proved helpful. Not only did it serve as a means to let the message get heard, it allowed for more and more people aside the about 20 youths who set out to carry out the campaign.
Tweets were also directed to relevant stakeholders be it individuals or organizations who have a role to play in ensuring that the changes needed for the small scale farmers are met.
As of the second day of the campaign, a total of 224 tweets were sent out, 419,106 impressions made with an audience of 364,848 with lot of mentions and re-tweet. This show how far reaching the social media can go and thus a good tool in advocacy, capacity building and inclusion especially in agriculture.
The small scale farmers are the major food producers in Nigeria and they not only need to be heard they need to be listened to and action taken. The small scale farmers need to be helped to produce more and have better livelihood for themselves and the generation to come. This campaign also serves as a wake-up call to the younger generation that lot of work is available to be done in the Nigerian Agricultural Sector. There is also need to start giving attention to the next generation of farmers, researchers, extension workers and agriculture policy makers who would reshape affairs so as to have a food secure country in the near future to come.
You can read more of the matters raised during the campaign by searching for Hash tag #yv4ssf on twitter. You can also read about the HEDA Centre Program here.