Did you know that 2014 is the African Union (AU) Year of Agriculture? About 11 years ago, 54 African States committed to invest at least 10 percent of national budgets in agriculture. What’s happening nowadays? Africa still has more than 240 million people suffering from malnutrition and only eight from 54 countries have committed to the 2003 agreed investment.
The 23rd Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union was organised from 20 to the 27 of June under the theme: “2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security”. With political summits usually led by heads of state and government, what kind of role can youth play to make their voices heard?
A petition was launched early this year by ONE.org to call on African leaders to support their campaign ‘Do Agric, it pays!’. The campaign aims to urge African leaders to invest national budgets in effective agriculture and livelihood development. Over 2 million-signatures were collected and delivered to African leaders. An inspirational idea of this summit was to use digital platforms (mainly Twitter) to mobilise African citizens, especially the youth, to take part in the continental agricultural movement and show their commitment to the heads of state. A song ‘Cocoa Na Chocolate’ featuring D’Banj and 19 of Africa’s biggest stars was produced to promote the campaign. The song was translated into 10 languages to speak out one message: Do Agric, it pays! Within two months, the video for the song had garnered 139,255 views on YouTube.
YPARD, a global network for young professionals for agricultural development, engaged with ONE.org to create tweets to generate citizen’s voices being delivered to the AU Summit. According to YPARD’s report, tweets were drafted from the 10 policy recommendations as well as the image of the petition. At a set time, young people tweeted in concert each of the policy recommendations. They also re-tweeted each other’s tweets during a designated “twitter hour” with the hash-tags like #10percent and #doagric. The petition tweets were addressed to African leaders.
Citizen’s voices, especially from the youth, should be sincerely heard and concerns addressed by policy makers. In a single campaign like ‘Do Agric, it pays’, 2.1 million Africans urged their leaders to make bold decisions on their countries' food security future. This again shows that good social media and web platforms can bridge gaps between policy makers and voices from the ground.
I conclude this news post with a tweet which I found on the campaign’s twitter page: “Farmers are the pillar of this country, where food comes from. Our leaders should see this as the future.” I hope all African leaders attended the AU Summit do agree with it.