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APPLY-GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY SYMPOSIUM 2017 – NEXT GENERATION DELEGATION

global-food-security-symposium-2017

Deadline is November 4 2016.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is now accepting applications for our Next Generation Delegation from students to participate in the Global Food Security Symposium 2017. The symposium will be held on March 29-30, 2017, in Washington, DC.

The 2017 symposium will offer key insights on how to leverage past successes, and invigorate future efforts, amidst an evolving global landscape. This unique window of opportunity is a chance to help shape the next decade of leadership on global food security.

Next Generation Delegates will have the opportunity to:

  • interact with symposium speakers and senior attendees in private forum;
  • network with other outstanding students planning careers in global food, agriculture, and nutrition sectors;
  • connect with key stakeholders from the public, private, and NGO sectors in private meetings; and
  • select delegates may also participate in symposium side events, panel discussions, or video interviews.

Rapporteurs will play an important role by attending working group “Solution Sessions” in Washington, DC, and capturing key themes and outcomes discussed at private working group sessions. The aim of this position is to allow students to participate in the working groups and the symposium and to ensure that the proceedings and outcomes are clearly recorded and shared with participants for follow-up action. The Solution Sessions will be held on March 29, and rapporteurs will also be invited to the symposium on March 30.

Candidate Responsibilities

Delegates are expected to:

  • Attend all symposium-related events in Washington, DC, on March 29-30, 2017. The Council will cover round trip airfare, accommodations, and meal expenses.
  • Prepare a commentary piece for the Global Food for Thought blog on food security, shocks to the global food system, and entrepreneurship and innovation, as it relates to their area of research focus and career trajectory.
  • Support social media outreach, which includes engaging your respective universities and disseminating information about the symposium, its featured report and the live stream to your networks.
  • Contribute to and participate in the event’s social media plans, and responsibilities as required.
  • Participate in a private post-event debriefing session and complete an online evaluation of the event.

Candidate Criteria:

Students must be at the graduate or advanced undergraduate (third or fourth year) level studying agricultural development, social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, or other food security related disciplines. Students must plan to enter the agriculture and food sector upon graduation. International students and students studying at universities outside of the United States are strongly encouraged to apply.

To Apply

Interested applicants should complete this application form , providing the following:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two professional or academic references
  • A letter of recommendation from a professor or employer
  • A brief essay (maximum 500 words) on one of the following topics as it relates to their area of study: innovation and technology in the global food system, global food security and global stability, sustainable and equitable development of food systems.

The deadline for applications is November 4, 2016. Please note incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have in questions about the Next Generation Delegation, please contact nextgendelegation@thechicagocouncil.org.

For More Information visit – https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/basic-page/global-food-security-symposium-2017-next-generation-delegation

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9 ways to engage youth in agriculture

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In Africa over 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24, the youngest population in the world. This age group according to the African Economic Outlooks is expected to double in number by 2045. Low profitability, poor security of land tenure, and high risks are just some of the reasons Africa’s youth are leaving rural areas to seek jobs in cities, a migration that could see Africa with a shortage of farmers in the future. Given that agriculture is one of the continent’s biggest economic sectors, generating broad economic development and providing much of the population with food, this poses a serious threat to the future of farming and to meeting the demands of a rapidly growing urban population. Growing youth unemployment, aging farmers and declining crop yields under traditional farming systems mean engaging youth in agriculture should be a priority.

Recent articles highlight this key challenge and suggest solutions for making agriculture more attractive to younger generations.

1)      Link social media to agriculture

The rise of social media and its attraction among young people with access to the appropriate technologies could be a route into agriculture if the two could be linked in some way. Mobile phone use in Africa is growing rapidly and people are now much more connected to sources of information and each other. Utilising these channels to promote agriculture and educate young people could go a long way in engaging new groups of people into the sector.

2)      Improve agriculture’s image

Farming is rarely portrayed in the media as a young person’s game and can be seen as outdated, unprofitable and hard work. Greater awareness of the benefits of agriculture as a career needs to be built amongst young people, in particular opportunities for greater market engagement, innovation and farming as a business. The media, ICT and social media can all be used to help better agriculture’s image across a broad audience and allow for sharing of information and experiences between young people and young farmers.

3)      Strengthen higher education in agriculture

Relatively few students choose to study agriculture, perhaps in part because the quality of agricultural training is mixed. Taught materials need to be linked to advances in technology, facilitate innovation and have greater relevance to a diverse and evolving agricultural sector, with a focus on agribusiness and entrepreneurship. Beyond technical skills, building capacity for management, decision-making, communication and leadership should also be central to higher education. Reforms to agricultural tertiary education should be designed for young people and as such the process requires their direct engagement.

4)      Greater use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Not only can ICT be used to educate and train those unable to attend higher education institutions but it can be used as a tool to help young people spread knowledge, build networks, and find employment. Catering to a technologically savvy generation will require technological solutions. Such technologies can also reduce the costs of business transactions, increasing agriculture’s profitability.

5)      Empower young people to speak up

If we are to enable youth to transform agriculture then the barriers to their engagement, such as access to land and finance, need to be addressed. National policies on farming and food security need to identify and address issues facing young people. As such youth need to become part of policy discussions at the local and national levels, whether as part of local development meetings, advisory groups or on boards or committees.

The Young Professionals for Agricultural  Development (YPARD) aims to provide a platform for young people to discuss opportunities in agricultural development, share experiences and advocate for greater youth engagement and representation.

6)      Facilitate access to land and credit

Land is often scarce and difficult to access for young people, and without collateral getting credit to buy land is nigh on impossible. Innovative financing for agriculture and small businesses is needed. For example soft loans provided to youth who come up with innovative proposals in agriculture or microfranchising.

7)      Put agriculture on the school curricula

Primary and high school education could include modules on farming, from growing to marketing crops. This could help young people see agriculture as a potential career. Farm Africa run a project aiming to help school children discover more about agriculture as a profession.

8)      Greater public investment in agriculture

Young people may see agriculture as a sector much neglected by the government, giving farming the image of being old fashioned. Investment in agriculture is more effective at reducing poverty than investment in any other sector but public expenditure on agriculture remains low. Regional and continent-wide programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) may go some way in transforming the prominence and reputation of agriculture in Africa but national efforts and public investments are also needed.

9)      Make agriculture more profitable

This is an easy statement to make but a difficult one to realise. Low yields and market failures in Africa reduce the potential of agriculture to be profitable and to provide people with a chance of escaping poverty and improving their quality of life. Making agriculture profitable requires that the costs of farming and doing business are reduced while at the same time productivity increases. Although large-scale commercial farming springs to mind, this is not necessarily the case, and small farms can be highly productive with low labour costs.

Of course all of these solutions come with their own hurdles: access to education and technologies, rural development, land rights etc. But as one article states “Africa has the highest number of youth in the whole world, and some of the most fertile soils – the two combined could be a force to promote agricultural development!“ Foregoing engaging youth in agriculture and the potential for transformation this could bring because of the complexities of modernising agriculture would be a huge opportunity lost.

Can you add to this list? If you know of any ways or projects to help youth engage in agriculture, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

First published here

Youth entrepreneur using ICT to grow agribusinesses

Business

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has grown many businesses in several sectors, and young entrepreneurs are now using ICT to tap into the gold-mine inherent in agribusinesses. Olawale Ojo, chief executive, Agropreneur Nigeria, provides business support services for farmers and young agriculturists. Apart from advocacy and capacity building for aspiring agro-entrepreneurs, the business provides information and business support to help them grow.

“We do research and share the information via social media to enable a proper understanding of what is happening in the sector. We also profile successful young agropreneurs and share their story so that others can learn, and this serves as an incentive to these hardworking young people. I started the business April 30, last year,” according to Ojo.

Background

Ojo has a degree in Agricultural Engineering from the Federal University of Technology Akure and a diploma in Integrated Farming Systems from the Songhai Centre for Production, Training, and Research, Porto Novo, Benin Republic.

Inspiration

He says: “My inspiration came after my course at the Songhai Centre. It served as an eye opener for me as I worked with other youths from different parts of Africa exploring the agricultural value chain. So, using my knowledge of ICT, I provide capacity building services using social media as a tool for knowledge and information sharing to help young entrepreneurs boost their agribusinesses. Though the main target are youths, we also work with older farmers and investors in agribusiness generally.”

Challenges

The business no doubt has its own fair share of challenges. “Building a team and a structure for my business was a bit of a challenge. Financing was also challenging. I got help from older ones in the field and mentors I have met along the way such as the CEO of Centre for Urban Agricultural Development, the lady Olatoye, who was really helpful in my starting up. I also learned a lot from materials I read from research organisations.”

Future prospects

I have joined my parents in running a family farm. But I want Agropreneur Nigeria to have its own farm, a very big one, where we can give youths practical training in agricultural production/agribusiness so they can start their own businesses. We also want to do market facilitation for farmers in rural areas as well as provide qualitative extension services for them. Fortunately, more and more youths are willingly setting up agrobusinesses in Nigeria and in other countries. They are beginning to see that the agricultural sector is a gold-mine that needs tapping. And it is now time to act and start employing innovative ways to key into the sector, despite the challenges we have.”

This article about me was published the Business Day Newspaper Edition of July 22 2013

More family than team

By Nawsheen Hosanelly

One of the main highlights of the ICT4Ag conference held in Kigali, Rwanda on 4–8 November 2013 was the presence of an on-site social reporting team. Dressed in their white social reporting T-shirts, these dynamic young people from 11 ACP countries were constantly visible – taking notes on key points from the sessions, participating in discussions, posting live tweets, and taking video interviews and photos of panellists and other conference delegates.

The engagement of youth in agriculture and rural development is a key factor for the sector’s sustainability and future. That’s why CTA has been involving youth in its activities through various projects and programmes (on ICT, policy, value chain, and science and technology, for example) for the past years, and has recently developed a youth strategy to better integrate them.

The main reason for having a social reporting team at the ICT4Ag conference was to raise awareness about the conference streams, sessions and topics before, during and after the event. More importantly, by training and involving youth in social reporting, CTA aimed to strengthen their capacity and that of the organisations they are affiliated with on the use of Web 2.0 tools and social media for social reporting.

Massive interest  

There were more than 500 applications from different countries following a call for social reporters in August 2013. This demonstrated substantial interest on the part of the youth for social reporting and their willingness to learn more on ICT for agriculture.

‘When I applied to do social reporting at the ICT4ag conference, I didn’t really know what to expect or what kind of experience was awaiting me,’ said Catherine Banda from Malawi at the two-day training on social reporting in Kigali. Indeed, it was the first time that CTA had an official social reporting team at its annual international conference. And it was going to be a new experience for the whole team, including the social reporters and CTA.

CTA contracted a social reporting coordinator to lead the social reporting team. Ultimately, 15 reporters were selected to form the on-site team, and around 250 others formed part of a larger online team. CTA compiled a mailing list with 270 contacts that served as the main communication channel between the social reporting coordinator and the social reporters. The discussions immediately revealed  how diverse the group was in terms of geography and also their involvement in agriculture and ICTs.

‘Since all of us on this list have interesting experiences with agriculture and ICTs,’ asked one of the social reporters, ‘why don’t we discuss the challenges in agriculture, provide examples of how ICTs are being used to address them and propose recommendations for the issues that still need to be addressed?’

These were the types of online discussions that took place in both English and French before the ICT4ag conference. They were moderated by two social reporters from the online team. It was a very fruitful activity as many ideas and experiences were shared from various countries and regions. The report of the e-discussion is currently being finalised and will be published soon on the conference social reporting blog.

Both the on-site team and the online team had specific reporting tasks at the conference. The on-site team attended a two-day training on social reporting in Kigali prior to the conference. They were exposed to the different tools that would be used during the conference, as well as who the target audience was and how to package and disseminate the content via different channels.

The social reporters also worked with the conference Knowledge Management (KM) team. ‘We don’t want to have a lot tweets or blog posts with content that doesn’t bring much value. Concentrate on the examples of innovations shared, the secret ingredient that made an initiative or innovation successful, lessons learnt and the actions taken to make it happen,’ Pete Cranston of the KM team told the social reporters during the training.

The pay-off  

The coordination team for social reporting observed a stark improvement in quality of the work delivered by the social reporters before and after the on-site training in Kigali, both in the tweets they sent and in the writing on the blog posts. At least two reporters were assigned to each session during the conference. While they sent tweets, took photos and videos, and wrote blog posts, they also had the opportunity to interact with speakers and chairs from the sessions.

Meanwhile, while the on-site team was busy producing and publishing content, the online team was helping to disseminate the information through various channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube). The social reporting coordinator continuously checked to ensure that everything was going as planned on-site and online.

The young social reporters really impressed at the conference. They were always the first ones to come to a session and the last ones to leave. The team worked around the clock, many of them sleeping just three or four hours a day to make sure they submitted their blog post and other content on time.

During the closing ceremony and gala dinner, the conference organisers gave the hard-working social reporters the recognition they deserved. They received their certificates in the presence of the Rwandan Minister of Youth and ICT, the Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, the director of CTA and other distinguished delegates.

According to social media tracker Keyhole, from the month preceding the conference to its end, the event generated 12,322 posts, 1,910 unique users, 14,080,542 views and reached 2,536,835 people. For a first experience, these statistics are very encouraging and the contribution of each and every social reporter, whether online or on-site, was crucial to the success of the social reporting process.

While the figures showed the outreach of the social reporting team, for those who were involved in this activity it was a real learning and sharing experience. Everyone brought some form of knowledge and experience on social media, but all left with a wealth of skills that they will use in our activities, both personally and professionally. As on-site reporter Riten Gosai from Fiji said on the last day on the conference: ‘We came here as the social reporting team and are leaving as a family!’

 

Nawsheen Hosenally is ICT4Ag associate at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Read original post here

Photo snapshot: Happy anniversary to a great #SocialReporting team!

Working hand in hand with this #GCARD2 team has taught me so much and gotten me and international network of friends in ARD from all over the world. As we celebrate our 1 year anniversary all i can wish is to see them all once again soon.

Youth: get geared up!

Making a presentation on country level activities at the YPARD Side event. #aasw6

Making a presentation on country level activities at the YPARD Side event. #aasw6

The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week with the theme;- “Africa Feeding Africa through Agricultural Science and Innovation” was held between the 15th and 21st of July 2013 at Accra, Ghana and put together by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). It was an event  that I was happy to have participated in. You might wonder why I have said so. For the first time since my sojourn into Agricultural Research for Development, I was part of an event that clearly highlighted that Food Security in Africa was a concern to all from the youngest to the oldest, from Donors to ARD agencies and even down to scientist and the private sector players.

Let me give you a quick overview of how the event by, as you read pay a bit of attention to the inclusion and involvement of youth in this Africa wide event and why indeed we need to be geared up for action and impact in the near future. Quite unknown to many though, that future is now.

The conference had four thematic focuses, namely

  • Education and human Resource development to enable Africa feed Africa
  • Innovations to improve productivity and resilience
  • Moving beyond competition and towards collaboration
  • Innovative Financing and Investment in Agriculture.

The first two days of the conference were allocated to side events by FARA constituents, stakeholders, partner organisations, Regional Agriculture Research Councils and even Donors. And each of these side events had a very good number of youth and young professionals in attendance to not only listen and observe, but also give their contributions, perspectives and give a voice in all the discussions held.

Personally, I was invited and supported by FARA to attend and take part in the side-event with the theme: “Promoting Access to Rural Finance for Enhanced Agricultural Productivity in Africa” and this comes under the fourth thematic focus- “Innovative Financing and Investment in Agriculture.” The panellist and participants at this discussions agreed that there was a need to increase greatly investment in Agriculture paying attention to two core areas namely

  1. Sustainable new ways for accessing agricultural and rural finance in Africa
  2. Innovative options for promoting Youth access to financial services for agricultural purposes.

Participants at this event were cross-cutting thus giving a good mix of suggestions and practical way forwards. At the end of the discussions for the day, it was all agreed that a multi stakeholder approach was needed to properly and successfully increase investment in rural agriculture. And that for youth to have access to finance a couple of things needs to be put into consideration

  1. A review of agricultural policy
  2. Reduction of high interest rate so that youth can have access to credit
  3. A review of land tenure laws, which would tend toward making access to land for agricultural purpose readily available for youth
  4. Development of application of ICT to agriculture
  5. Capacity building in production and financial management skills

Another intriguing aspect of the Science week for me was working with the over 165 social media support team which had 55 of them onsite. FARA, CTA, YPARD, and CGIAR had partnered to support 25 onsite Social media Trainee from across Africa who were trained prior to the event to report proceedings to the world at large. And it was indeed, a great opportunity to work side by side these energetic and cool young people on the social media team.

By and large the science week shed more light on advancements made so far, challenges and the need for Africa to seek more scientific and innovative methods in its quest to feed itself. The need for more youth and women in the advancement of food security was stressed from all quarters. In the words of the IFAD President, Kanayo. N. Kanayo

Africa needs a commitment at all levels, involvement of all sectors of our societies – government, the private sector, farmers themselves, NGOs, civil society, and particularly women and young people.”

Even though sadly for me no one neither the private sector nor government agencies made mention of specific roles or programs or project that they would engage youth in the near future. My thoughts and advice for every youth and young professional in ARD is this- “Develop yourself, be ready to learn, maintain a good network of other young professionals in ARD, seize opportunities that come your way, partner with others and when the time comes we would be ripe and ready to take our place in securing Africa”

Get geared up!

YOUTH RAISE THEIR VOICES FOR SMALL-SCALE FARMERS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

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.

What Next

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.