Friday, 7 March 2014

The Birth of Online Petition Farming

That's the message that bombarded my Twitter timeline a week ago under the hashtag, #DoAgric . And as requested, i stopped whatever office work i was doing and instead of heading to a farm, i clicked on the hashtag to get an idea of what was going on with this hashtag that had bombarded my timeline on a Monday, January 29th ,2014.

It didn't take me long to realize that a  civil society organization, had created a campaign dubbed "Do Agric, It pays"  in a bid to push African governments to increase investments in the Agricultural sector. Its quite a sore state of agricultural investment in Sub Saharan Africa that since the Maputo declaration of 2003 by African Heads of State and their unanimous pledge to allocate 10% of the national budget to agriculture by 2008 ,only 8 out of the 54 countries in Africa have kept the promise. Kenyan government in itself has only allocated 4.6% of its budget in the agricultural sector.

Source NEPAD

It presents such a gloomy situation considering that agriculture accounts as a source of livelihoods for a majority of people in Sub Saharan Africa. And at the end of it all, we all need food to survive and replenish our bodies. I presume that this was one among the reasons that chose celebrities to steer going the campaign.And  its through this that i realized that among the choices of its brand ambassadors was Dbanj and Koko Toure. I must admit that thanks to and the hastag, i realized Dbanj had quite an active handle on Twitter. I know, you must be wondering what social media world i live in that i have no knowledge of the existence of Dbanj. Well, i rarely track down celebrities on social media platforms,well unless i hear some continuous buzz on them as a result of the work they do and at times, that could be them winning an Oscar :-)

My Two Cents.........

I couldn't resist visiting the website to get the full information and i happened to stumble upon this message,

Sign The Petition Now....
Dear African Leaders, We can grow a million jobs,Feed Africa and create a better future if you keep your promises to invest in agriculture and support smallholder farmers, especially women. 

I toggled back from the website to their twitter page and saw  Dbanj signing,I didn't think twice. If this award winning musician was getting down to the farm and becoming a real Koko master, then i a young farmer didn't have any reason not to do so.

In any case, i have been very active in signing these online petitions,with the last i remember being one directed to the South African  government to ban  Melissa Bachman entry to the country after she posted a photo of her smiling with a dead lion(her kill) on Twitter.I was very agitated and so i signed that petition with every inch of boiling anger in me. Yeah,this woman had done a bad thing bragging about her kill and the gloomy thought of my grand kinds not having the chance of seeing lions notwithstanding.I signed the petition and despite the petition having been signed more than 1300 times, four months down the line, i have no idea what happened. And so on goes other petitions that i have signed in the past.


I am in no way trying to be skeptical but some things struck my mind.

The "Do Agric" petition will get a lot of attention from the online masses but not the involved governments. Apart from Jakaya Kikwete who i gather graced the launch occasion, where were other heads of state in the same/ representatives of the same? If we create the hype around the campaign using celebrities and influential people in the society without including the intended recipient of the same, I smell a failed petition and e-library stacking with names of they that signed. More like the recommendations that occur in conferences and end up lying somewhere in someone's bookshelf generously gathering dust.

By signing the petition,adding my voice and you presenting my name to the African Leaders, it doesn't/shouldn't end there.The continuity is what matters that a new breed of farmers is continuously brought up to light as we continue advocating for the increase in the agricultural sector investment. Flashy celebs posing for photos among herds of cows won't improve the situation in any bit. We need to go beyond that and be the change we want to see in this sector. Meanwhile, am reading through the "Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation" as i wait  for all these, Do Agric, celebs and
Koko masters to finish wearing their gumboots and join me in my papa's farm; because actions should definitely speak more louder than words and photographs poses :-)

Feel free to share your comments below!

Related Articles/Further Reading:

  1. A storify for Dbanj #DoAgric twitter chat
  2. Slacktivism or This Generation’s Activism: Do Online Petitions Work? 
  3. Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation

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