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The need of ICTs in developing rural agriculture

“My participation to the Youth, ICT and Agricultural innovation workshop, Ugunja, Kenya, 24th May” This workshop was part of the research to find out how rural youth can be empowered through ICT to come up with ideas that will contribute towards agricultural innovations and hence rural agricultural sustainability. This was after it was clear that many rural youth are leaving agricultural activities in the rural as they find their way to urban centers since many agricultural practices done in the rural community do not at all embrace technology and also the many challenges that they face. The need of ICTs in developing rural agriculture As a member of YPARD, it will be of great importance to the rural youth who are in this case the majority of the population in Kenya, to be empowered on issues of Agricultural innovation and ICT. I believe that there is a great connection between these two elements and perhaps it translates on why most youth in rural areas would prefer to live in an urban setting leaving agricultural productivity in a nightmare since the system of agriculture practiced in rural areas do not embrace ICT. Managing generation Y means all their activities must be tied to ICT, otherwise it will be too old for them to be associated with it. YPARD members and youth should instead take up this initiative to greater levels by creating awareness and empowering the youth on these elements. There should be door to door sensitization of rural youth on importance of ICT since many challenges forwarded by these group of people literally revolved around lack of know how, youth networks, information and traditional beliefs i.e. the absence of old people to translate the Early Warning Systems and indigenous knowledge systems,  inaccessibility to insurance covers for crop failure etc to the youth on the agricultural investments when all these information are documented some-where around the web. My Objectives and follow-ups We shared a lot with Mr. Garcia, from ACTs Kenya, www.acts.or.ke, YPARD partner and joint organizer of the workshop. He was willing to develop a strategy[s] on how the awareness and empowerment of rural youth will be made possible with the YPARD being the coordinating unit. The following strategies if implemented would be of greater impact for the YPARD visibility in achieving its vision, mission and all its declarations;
  1. Decentralizing the operations of YPARD to target the rural farmers that will in turn pave way for youth engagement in Agriculture after successful capacity building and empowerment
  2. Increasing partnerships and information sharing with other organizations through a platform so as to effectively map various, CBOs, youth groups and self help groups that work under the umbrella of YPARD scopes, to register as members, then through training, to increase their capacity on such issues as ICT and Agricultural innovations, this will increase membership and the area coverage.
  3. Coming up with a training package and a programme that will adequately address most of the challenges experienced by these young farmers in the rural areas after such kind of research being done.
It is upon the development of this strategy that many youth will be very willing to disseminate and sensitize through  training and capacity building their fellow  rural youth using the IEC materials that will be developed by Mr. Garcia or even myself to address the challenges that shatter their dreams in venturing in new agricultural innovations. The next plan after the empowerment, will be to establish an agriculturally based resource center that will provide stimulus to the socio-economic programs that are more environmental friendly to the rural youth in Western Kenya, this will increase the youth and youth group networks within the region. And hence through the YPARD network, the youth will be able to contribute towards agricultural developments despite the challenges they face if given such level of training and awareness.  What I gained from the Workshop I was looking forward attending this workshop for enhancing skills that are important in designing, planning and implementation of various youth projects and activities towards sustainability of youth programs. It was after I attended the workshop that I realized the link that existed between the youth and agricultural developments. For youth to be branded as future leaders they must arise and take action today and it’s through well laid strategies and plans that this comes into a reality. Lastly, I really enjoyed the workshop and little did I know how important it is to link up the youth through ICT in developing agricultural technologies around the world, and under this condition, it is very clear to outline the role YPARD play in fulfilling these dreams. I hope YPARD network will keep me informed of any other contribution, as through such networks, skills are build on and experiences even becomes more enhanced. Challenges There is a 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 Chrispine O.Ogolla   About me I am 25 years old. I am an Ugenya constituent, in Nyanza province, Kenya I am a holder of Diploma in Disaster management and Emergency planning and currently I am the youth/volunteer coordinator in Uasin-Gishu Branch, Eldoret under Kenya Red Cross Society. My Profil: http://www.ypard.net/node/15113