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My childhood dream was to be a veterinarian because I love animals. But as I was growing up, I realised that it was not for me since I was scared of blood and everything related to hospitals and doctors. At secondary school, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I chose to study science because I liked biology a bit more than the other subjects, but there was nothing more than this. I was never among the first ones in my class and did not really do anything exceptional to make me stand out from the crowd. I was just the average student with average grades. But little did I know that it was all about to change some years later.
Being born and raised in an urban area in Mauritius, I had very little contact with agriculture. We just had some plants and fruit trees in our yard, and I was not very much involved in taking care of them. My first contact with agriculture was at university when I decided to do my Bachelor’s degree in agricultural extension. I enjoyed the work in the field and this is where my passion for agriculture came from. Sometimes you just get your food from the supermarket, but you don’t understand the science and process behind it. It was like a new discovery for me and I was really enjoying what I was doing. Before that, I did not imagine myself working in agriculture, and it was also not common to study the subject. But I think it is important sometimes to follow your heart and dare trying something new.
I have always been passionate about technology. I may not have the most trendy bags or shoes, but I have always had the latest gadgets. In 2010, following my participation in an essay competition on the use of ICTs in agriculture, I was invited for a training on web 2.0 and social media for development. And that was a turning point for me. From there, I knew that this is what I wanted to do – combining my passion for agriculture and ICTs together. Today, I work as a social media consultant (specialised in agriculture) and I have recently co-founded the start-up Agribusiness TV, the first youth in agriculture web TV in Africa.
Most of my time is spent behind the screen, managing websites, communities and social media accounts. But I am also involved in fieldwork and participate in events at various levels. What’s most rewarding about my job is the feeling of contributing to positive change when I receive messages and feedback from people that they have got opportunities or they have been able to do something from the information I have posted or shared. On the other hand, being currently based in a developing country, I would say that the biggest challenge is Internet connection. Sometimes it can take one whole day to upload a video, when the same is normally done in seconds when the connection is good. This does not make you competitive on the market.
I think young people are not much involved in agricultural careers because of the poor image they have of the sector. In many countries, agriculture has long been used as a punishment at school when you have done something wrong. It is exactly for this reason that we created Agribusiness TV. To show that agriculture should not be considered as a career option for those who did not succeed at school. It is today a business and there are young people doing really great things in the sector. Through videos, Agribusiness TV is featuring young agricultural entrepreneurs from Africa, with the objective to inspire other youth to get into agriculture and address the problem of food insecurity and unemployment. We often think of agriculture at just production level, but there are many untapped opportunities for youth in the agricultural sector. They just need to find a niche that matches their interest. Whether they are an engineer, a food scientist or an accountant, there is always something they can do in the agricultural sector.
When I look back, I realise that the job I am doing today did not exist when I was a child or at secondary school. I just followed by heart and passion, and did what I feel happy doing. Therefore, my advice to someone interested in my career is to first of all love what you do. It is good to be inspired by someone or something, but always try to bring a personal touch and innovate. Your work represents yourself, focus on quality and give it your best shot!
This post from Nawsheen Hosenally, who works as a freelance social media consultant specialised in agriculture issues, and has created an online TV station for agribusiness entrepreneurs is part of the Farming First series “I am Agriculture”, that showcases the many careers available to young people in agriculture.Are you a young professional in agriculture with a story to share? Tweet using #IamAg to join the campaign and inspire more young people to get involved in agricultural careers.