Very often, I am questioned about "Why have you chosen agriculture when you could have done something more interesting and get a stable job?". When I think about it, the only the answer I can get is that I have a passion for it. I have no idea how it happened, but there are many factors that have contributed to it.
I still remember the day when I decided to enrol for an agriculture course at the University of Mauritius... There was no specific reason for this decision, I just wanted to do something different because I was not happy with what I was doing. I was a very confused student in high school and did not like what I was studying (chemistry and physics at that time). In my mind I just knew that I was going to do something that will keep me close to nature and even if does not work, I should at least try it. My parents encouraged me to go forward with it, but there were a lot (well, more than a lot) of people who were telling me not to study agriculture because there are no job prospects and graduates in agriculture are still looking for jobs. Fortunately, I did not listen to anyone and did what I wanted.
Well, my first days at the Faculty of Agriculture were really cool. This faculty is the smallest one in the university and is like a family where all students know each other. We used to hang out together and then came the part when we had to work at the university farm for practicals. Like me, there were several friends who had never cultivated the land or even held a hoe in their hands. We all had a small plot (5m by 10m), where we had to cultivate crops (beans, cucumber, eggplant, coriander, carrot). From land preparation to harvesting, we had to do all. Not to mention how tiring it was to till the soil, demarcate the plot, dig furrows, and weeding! Everyday we used to go to the farm before our classes (usually at 07:30 to 08:00) to irrigate the crops and Saturdays were kept for weeding after classes. We used to complain a lot (I even cried one day when it was so hard to work in the sun), but when the day for harvest came, the satisfaction that we get cannot be described. Simply awesome feeling!
Similarly, everyday was a new adventure. All the practicals (related to crop&livestock production, pest and disease management, biotechnology, food science, agricultural engineering, agricultural extension etc) that we did were very interesting and there were site visits as well during which we were learning a lot. Gradually I started to like this new environment and I was also doing well in my studies.
After my first year at university, I was on training in Agricultural Extension at the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit (AREU). This internship was very beneficial for me. I was assisting extension officers in the field and office and met many planters and breeders. By the end of the 2 months' training, I just knew that I love field work and started to look at agriculture in a different perspective. When I did not know about something, I was probing and searched what it is about. This curiosity made me start to use social media a lot.
When University resumed, I started volunteering in the Agricultural Society in organising the World Food Day and other events on campus, through which I was getting in touch with almost all students at the faculty, lecturers and agricultural organisations as well. After this experience I joined AIESEC, which is the best part where I got the opportunity to lead teams and work on social issues other than agriculture. This experience has helped me develop my leadership & management skills and take initiatives.
With this new self-confidence, I started to grab all opportunities that I came across through social media and tried to contribute by sharing my experience in agriculture. I found about the ARDYIS essay contest by CTA on the MAISNET Blog and wrote an essay on Agriculture and ICTs in Mauritius. To my biggest surprise, I was selected as one of the best participants in the East Africa region and was trained on web 2.0 for development by CTA in Accra, Ghana (March 2011). After this training, I was a fan of web 2.0 tools and started to share information on agriculture on my profile on social media networks and started to blog about agriculture. Through these initiatives, I got other awesome opportunities in agriculture: Attending the Regional Dialogue of FANRPAN in Swaziland (September 2011) and being appointed as consultant for a case study on agriculture and youth policies in Mauritius; my selection as Agricultural Innovation Facilitator and training by PAEPARD in Uganda (November 2011).
My curiosity about agriculture made me discover youth leadership and ICTs and today my life is revolving around these. Agriculture was my starting point, but without web 2.0 tools and leadership skills, I would not have been able to grab opportunities, take risks and contribute in sustainable development. I work , I volunteer, I blog, I network with people over the world, I share information on agriculture and encourage the use of ICTs in agriculture. I love what I do, and highly encourage youths to do things which they are passionate about. We do not have to follow a pattern and do things which look cool but in fact are not. Do things which look crazy and different, always try something new and see what you are passionate about, because when you have found it, the rest will just follow!
The video below is one that inspires me a lot. It is about passion and I hope you like it as much as I do!