In the global agriculture diaspora, several topics/issues are always relevant or rather more current than others. I’ve realized that youth in agriculture are one of these. With fewer and fewer youth becoming involved in agriculture each year many wonder what will happen to the future of the industry.
But if this is the case shouldn’t youth that are currently involved in agriculture in one way or another be considered as important? Unfortunately this is not always so. Many programmes and resources that are geared towards ground level agricultural development is created without the involvement of youth. Not only are these programmes unsuitable but they are poorly implemented.
Regardless there seems to be a change in the situation. Youth will always be youth and no matter were they are in the world, you cannot stop them from speaking out. Therefore, when given the opportunity to have an input into their futures in agriculture by indicating what resources they need to succeed, it is a given that they will have much to say.
Last year at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, the Needs of Agri Youth were highlighted by the Caribbean Forum for Youth in Agriculture (CAFY) and the Caribbean Farmer’s Network (CAFAN). The conference was most beneficial, as the policy suggestions given by we youth, under guidance of our mentors, was submitted to the Alliance and the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Agriculture (COTED) here in the Caribbean. This means that policy specific to agricultural youth may be placed into existence; a meaningful step toward our development. See the full document here: Final Report – Regional Policy Forum for Youth and Rural Modernization
On the other side of the world, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD; www.spc.int/lrd), is working on youth projects which highlight youth empowerment. Supporting this initiative a call was placed out to their network seeking insights from youth or those that work with them on a regular based.
Mr. Viliamu Iese of the University of the South pacific provided the following quote from Brian Tairea; Agriculture/Horticulture Science Teacher of the Cook Islands:
“In the Cook islands, we do not have an entomologist, soil scientist, plant pathologist etc. So there lacks examples of agri science careers. So we get the students to think business wise. I also like to create a WOW! factor, by getting them to plant crops they are interested in. Watermelon, tomatoes, and corn seems to get their interest. Students or the youth are asked to create a product from what they produce, like a watermelon smoothie or pop their own popcorn and try and sell it. One thing you must never do is be the boss, let them lead the way and let them take ownership.”
As you can see, opportunities for youth ag development differ as situations and the environment changes, however the response from youth in the same. They want to succeed. Some are very aware of exactly what they need to achieve success. But what we truly need is a solid opportunity and some guidance. Empower us!
Here are some great sources of how Ag-Youth can be empowered:
- Commentary via Global Food for Thought – Engaging Youth in Agriculture: Investing in our Future
- Tweet Chat via Storify – #Youth2Ag: steps youth take to kickstart a career in agriculture
- Article via SPORE Magazine – Engaging Youth in Agriculture