“Finally there was a team of us, young persons of various backgrounds, all working hard on this one event that was geared towards Caribbean agribusiness.”
Youth across the Caribbean had been waiting for this opportunity on such a large scale, and finally, it happened. At the Caribbean Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015 (#CPAF15), youth from across the region were able to attend and participate as social media reporters supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).
We blogged, live tweeted, conducted interviews and managed photography and videography to engage as many agri-stakeholders online as possible.
This involvement of youth and incorporation of social media had never happened on such a scale in our region.
Moreover, our social media reporting team did exceptionally well. We broke the CTA’s conference record for photo uploads! We also achieved significant reach and impressions, placing the conference within the top three, in terms of online reach, of all conferences sponsored by the CTA.
I am Chelsea Wallace, a Digital Media Strategist and Jamaican, and I was thrilled to be a part of the the social media reporting team at #CPAF15. After my tertiary studies in the United States, I was eager to return home and make an impact on the Caribbean agri-food system. I got so much from #CPAF15, not the least of which was becoming connected with a network of knowledgeable and passionate agripreneurs, all desiring to make a change in the region. We all decided at the end of the conference that we would do something to keep the momentum that we had created together, but what would we do?
How could we take this further? How could we make a sustained impact on agriculture not just in our countries but across the entire region? The answer, we figured out, is information.
WiAgri – Empowering through Information
There is a major information gap among stakeholders in Caribbean agriculture. For whatever reason, knowledge that would be useful to so many farmers, agriyouth, processors, agribusiness owners and everything in between, is lost.
We are motivated to help to change this. We are WiAgri. Our mission and vision is to empower the Caribbean agricultural sector by improving the dissemination of agri-food information, and bridging the gap between agri-food policy and practitioner. We will do this by capitalizing on the connections to be made via digital media technology, enabling us to reach and engage within the Caribbean and across the world around agri-food issues.
Why is this needed?
Back in Barbados at #CPAF15 our social media reporting team, both onsite and offsite, really made an impact. Despite a host of problems (that’s a story for another day), we were able to:
- draft 7,235 posts by a total of 347 users
- reach an estimated 624,207 people
- with 6,380,002 views on the sum total of our posts.
These figures are impressive, to say the least! And they showcase the fact that an organization like WiAgri is needed! In this digital age, we can use the power of social and other digital media to capture and communicate around key knowledge and information that is often lost as it travels across the Caribbean agri-food system. Information about a new tool being used in St. Lucia can be communicated to farmers and processors in Guyana. Information about policies and infrastructure to be implemented by Ministries of Agriculture and/or other institutions can be made available to farmers so the farmers can hold these institutions accountable.
Though some organizational stakeholders in the Caribbean may not yet see how beneficial social and digital media truly are for agricultural development, it is clear as day to us and to other organizations within the developing and developed world.
So how exactly will we replicate and sustain such an impact?
WiAgri intends to bring the power of social and digital media to Caribbean agriculture by providing specific services including the following:
- Social media reporting – live coverage of conferences and events via social media channels including promotion before, during and after the event.
- Information dissemination – facilitation of knowledge exchange between and among ministries, farmer groups and other stakeholders in various territories about key takeaways from conferences we attend.
- Consultancy – establishment, support or upgrade of an agri-food organization’s or business’ social media strategy and channels.
- “Outsourcing” – a client specific service of finding information online as it relates to best practices in the agri-field.
- Digital campaigns and promotion for a specific period or event for an agri-food organization or business.
We are gearing up!
We are a recently formed group (you have no idea how long it took us to come up with a name! again, another story for another time), and as with all startups we have a few things to do to establish ourselves. Therefore with funds from the Youth Agripreneurs Project (YAP) we will:
- Register and incorporate the for-profit and non-profit arms of our organization (USD $750)
- Buy a domain name and set up an official website (USD $250)
- Cover initial operational costs for set-up – purchase necessary software, equipment, etc. (USD $500)
- Introduce ourselves to the regional market and cover networking costs – PR, etc. (USD $2000)
- Cover travel & accommodation to our first conference for social media reporting (USD $1500)
Our success will be measured in tranches, so to speak. We will know we are successful if by December 2016 we have:
- Registered and incorporated our organization
- Set up our official website
- Attended and performed social media reporting activities at 2 – 3 major conferences in the Caribbean
- Disseminated information from the conferences we attend to farmer groups and any other interested stakeholders in at least 5 Caribbean territories.
So as you can see we have our work cut out for us, but we are up to the task! As agriyouth, we can and will work with current stakeholders to bring Caribbean agriculture into the digital age. We are ready to play our part in ensuring that the Caribbean agri-food system is sustainable and adaptable, ready for the massive challenges we are now beginning to face.
from Chelsea Wallace
Blogpost and pictures submitted by Chelsea Wallace (Jamaica) – mswchels[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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