ICVolunteers at the Agriculture Fair

Photo © V. Krebs
Photo © V. Krebs
R. Tounsi
27 February 2008

A place of exchange between the urban and rural world, the International Agriculture Fair of Paris brings together close to 590,000 visitors, 1,000 exhibitors, representing 30 countries, 22 French regions, 700 producers from all over France (both from the mainland and the islands) and elsewhere in the world, 1,000 representatives working in the field of husbandry... The main theme of this 45th edition is "Agriculture in the heart of life".

ICVolunteers was represented by Rabah Tounsi, Project Manager at the conferences held during the Fair, on 28 February 2008. In particular, our organization joined the "Tech For Food" programme, an international forum initiated by the media group TV Agri, with the support of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the Fondation pour l'Agriculture et la Ruralité dans le Monde (FARM). ICVolunteers presented its history and fields of activity through its programmes and its field projects to the many who joined the event. Rabah Tounsi explains: "I presented the E-TIC project, information hubs in the Sahel region, which is focused on the connection to the outside world of rural communities through Information and Communication Technologies".

"On one hand, there were people with basic needs: develop their agriculture to feed their people. On the other hand, fabulous technology was presented that currently only serves agriculture in the North. This is why it seemed obvious to us that there was something to do..." Jean-Paul Hébrard - Président du Comité d'Organisation de Tech For Food.

The industrialized countries already profit from the benefits of technology. Yet... couldn't we use these great tools of growth to give an initial push to those who need them? Let us go even a step further... to not try at all; would it be in line with the Millennium Development Goals? With our obligations as citizens? We leave it to each and everyone to evaluate themselves... "Technology is an instrument of growth and development, and not just one of their resultants" Human Development Report of 2001 - United Nations Development Programme.

ICVolunteers and Tech For Food broaden the vision which reserves new technologies to industrialized countries. It is time to propose alternative developing models! How do we transform the digital divide into a digital opportunity? How do we move from a society where information exists, where it is, in fact, sometimes overabundant, to a society of shared knowledge? How can we create opportunities for young people in rural areas so they are not forced to leave the countryside and move to overpopulated cities? How can we use ICTs to better inform these young people working in husbandry, often a marginalized sector, in particular with links and connectors of young volunteers and community radios? How to adapt ICTs to the needs of those who work in husbandry and are largely anchored in an oral tradition? 

This project, in its dimension of "Connectivity of Rural Areas," aims to improve the conditions of access to agricultural markets. It also aims to promote economic growth for rural populations with great potential. Without connectivity to the rest of the world, these rural areas would find it difficult to improve commercialization of agricultural products. It will provide a better access to community and administrative services in order to improve the rural living conditions. Our action aims to focus on the connection to the outside world of the rural and nomadic populations in their respective locations. ICVolunteers proposes a rich catalogue of training, whose main goal is to develop and multiply skills: training for future trainers.

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