In the run-up to the World Congress on Agroforestry (#WCA2014), we ran a blog competition. The purpose was to provide agroforestry researchers, practitioners, students and farmers a platform to showcase their projects on our blog. We also used this opportunity to encourage people to discover the power of blogging -and social media as a whole- as powerful online publishing and discussion tools. In the process, we also guided people into “the art of blogging”.
The online public could vote for each blog entry, and leave comments, stimulating online discussions on the topics our contest entrants blogged about.
In one month, we received 47 blogposts from 19 countries (India, Morocco, UK, Kenya, Indonesia, Comoros, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Moldova, Bolivia, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Canada, Nepal, Sweden, Eritrea, Vietnam and Switzerland).
These contest entries received a total of 23,991 online votes, and 2,262 comments, which was way beyond our expectation. This success showed how eager people were to publish and interact online.
It was also encouraging to see how many competition entrants told us, this was actually the first time they wrote a blogpost, and how they enjoyed discovering the ease of publishing and the speed in which the blogposts “traveled” through the online media. Many were surprised about the amount of people who read the entries: over 35,000 people.
Here are some excerpts we received from our competition entrants:
When I circulated information about my blog to the Agricultural Research Service Scientist forum of ICAR & Agricultural extension as well as Animal Nutrition Association, they got introduced for first time to the concept of Blogging. Some wish to write now. It may go viral!
I am happy to see, it is making some impact. (…) (Our) scientists were largely ignorant about this till today, despite good publicity made through different channels.
I am enjoying blogging!
(This) is a kind of game changer for me!! I’m inspired so much & wish many get inspired too! So, I have uploaded it on all of my networks! hope it would help many to think social media a bit more productively, like blogging!!
– Dr Mahesh Chander, Principal Scientist & Head, Division of Extension Education, Indian Veterinary Research Institute
The blog post competition is well received by all here at ICAR/NARS and I hope this will be trendsetter….
–Sridhar Gutam PhD, ARS, Patent Laws (NALSAR), IP & Biotech. (WIPO) – Senior scientist (Plant Physiology) Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture
It was quite fun participating in this competition. Though I have lost all hopes of winning since I can check the number of votes other participants have got, (…) it was fun indeed, but I learnt so many new things in the process.
– Dr Sandeep Sehgal – Assistant Professor, Agroforestry, Sher-e-Kashmir University of agricultural Sciences and Technology
While each and every single blog post described an interesting project. There was quite a variety in writing and presentation styles. The posts all plugged into different areas of public interest.
Needless to say that for us, each and every blog post is a winner. After all, the joy is in competing, and going through the process of writing to blogpost.
However, the online public decided in its 23,991 votes. And here are the #WCA2014 blog contest winners are:
Entry #21: 5,104 votes
Let’s endorse Fodder Banks for reducing pressure from forests and women drudgery
by Dr.Shalini Dhyani, Scientist, CSIR-NEERI (A scientist from Nagpur, Maharashtra, India)
Entry #7: 5,089 votes
Forestry and Farming a way through: Aloe Vera the green gold amongst us
by Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu (A social entrepreneur from Asmara, Eritrea)
Entry #30: 3,852 votes
Can we enhance the productivity of our forests through agroforestry?
by Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sanwal, Indian Forest Service, DCF Uttarakhand cadre (A scientist from Dehradun, India)
Entry #16: 2,280 votes
Shift of a Paradigm: A Micro Initiative Towards Agro-Forestry
by Manish Kumar (A student from Navinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Entry #14: 1,331 votes
Women, livestock and fodder trees in Central Himalayas
by Dr Mahesh Chander, Principal Scientist & Head, Division of Extension Education, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (A scientist from Izatnagar, India)
A special honorable mention, and the prize of appreciation by the social media jury was awarded to:
Entry #3: 1,229 votes (with an average score of 5/5):
Agroforestry: Attracting youth to farming and transforming Rural India
by Nikki Pilania Chaudhary – Chaudhary Farms (A farmer from Pilibhit,India)
In their nomination, the social media jury wrote the following justification for Nikki’s for prize of appreciation:
Nikki is a young female farmer. This was her first blogpost, and she writes passionately about a crucial topic, urging educated youth to pick up farming in rural areas. Nikki also attended the social media training and is part of our social reporters’ team.
Excerpt from Nikki’s blogpost:
“Farming needs intelligence, good know-how, and lot of professionalism to carry out complex agricultural operations. We need to change our attitude and perception towards farming and I request youth to come up with a green thumb and not to underestimate farming. Agriculture has the potential to provide them with not only a very good income but also the chance to transform rural India.”
These six authors will receive a certificate and a signed copy of “The Trees for Life,” a new book to launched at the Congress.
Dr.Shalini Dhyani wins the first prize: a shiny new Apple iPad tablet.
A special thanks goes to all of you:
… our blog contestants. You took the opportunity and dared to experiment.
… our online voters. Your votes are the encouragement for our competition entrants to continue experimenting in social media
… all who left comments on the blog entries. You enticed a real online discussion in a critical but positive way, while showing your appreciation to the bloggers.
We hope each and every one of you continues to experiment with social media as a powerful publication and discussion tool.
Well done all!
Picture courtesy Daniel Kapsoot