Meet Utpal Roy, a 21-year-old from Bangladesh, who started working in fish farming at the age of 18, out of interest developed from his family. He was discouraged after seeing his profits drop and gradually he lost interest in it.
“I knew the basics of aqua farming but still needed proper guidance in preparing low-cost feed, accessing markets and getting desired information,” says Utpal, when he was asked what really holds back the youth from taking up agriculture as a career?
After receiving a course from the Bangladesh Government Youth Development Training Programme, he still felt he was not getting relevant information. Later Utpal was chosen to attend a training programme organized by Access Agriculture in a joint project with MetaMeta and JJS.
During the training, he was introduced to the agricultural learning hub of Access Agriculture, and he left awestruck how these easily accessible quality agricultural training videos are being connected globally. Most importantly the videos can be watched in his own language and he feels they are clearly designed for the field.
Previously he faced challenges in preparing low-cost concentrate feed, growing Azolla, stocking fingerlings and so on. In fact, stocking fingerlings in a nursery pond were unknown to him. Other videos which are of interest to his mother and nearby community include effective weed management in rice, seed sorting and seed storage.
He made his family and neighborhood aware of the videos and they were inspired. He hopes this platform on actual practical experience is a pathfinder for struggling farmers in his district.
However, he feels one of the biggest challenges of this platform is older farmers not being able to operate smartphones to access the website. The project did realize without the involvement of young generations to this system, the approach will not succeed. As younger people are already acquainted with the technology, hence part of this project the youngsters are being encouraged to reach out to the community through horizontal learning with their technical access.
Part of this training, participants are trained on some framing basics to record videos using their smartphone and upload and share it with the designated social media sites. Different kinds of videos will be addressed, including instructional, awareness, story-telling, and interview videos to maximize outreach to the WMGs (Water Management Groups). And this would be followed by an awarding ceremony which will take place at the end of the quarter, showcasing the top 10 of best practices.
All the participants feel very enthusiastic to take part in this participatory video completion as they also feel the need to assimilate to supplement the existing agricultural extension approaches to reach more farmers in their community and encourage horizontal learning.
Due to a perception of farming being old-fashioned and unprofitable, young people usually don’t see it as a business, this project aims to make youngsters realized the impact of ICT in agriculture in diverse ways including economic development, value chain linkages and financial services.
Their motivation is a reminder of what is possible when youth are given the chance to be inspired in agriculture with its business potential.
Photo credit: Access Agriculture