Insights from the coordinator of the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD)

Guest post by: Dr Balasubramanian Ramani, Coordinator of the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD)

N. Palmer CIAT

First I would like to thank GCARD organizers for the opportunity to attend along with 40 young professionals from various disciplines of ARD and from more than 25 countries. Now it’s emphatic to say farmers are central to any transformation in ARD, for which I give much credit to GFAR and Regional Fora who were fighting for this acceptance from long ago. That said, it’s time to say youth needs to be central to any future transformation we are/will discuss, because while discussing the future of ARD, we cannot do that without their say in what we do to transform “their” system, as they are the ones to inherit that very soon.I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions attended, to say the least.

First was the session on water, soil and ecosystems, chaired by Monica Kapiriri, where the point was clearly made to build team of youth and women as awareness soldiers on the scarcity of water, land degradation and future scenarios to the current elderly generation of farmers and children. Through this it not only becomes easier to convey the message of researchers on any solution they want to discuss with stakeholders, but also social empowerment, reducing unemployability of youth (e.g. school dropouts, etc.).

Second was the capacity development (CD) session chaired by Mark Holderness and Didier Pilot. In the first part of the afternoon session, excellent presentations by Bientma, Pardey and Cackler gave the frightening but very real picture what we need and what we have in terms of investment in CD in ARD. Discussion was very lively with great depth of questions and clarifications by presenters.

In the second part of the afternoon session, the presentation and discussion was on CD of human resource and institutions. It was very clear that youth organizations and youth are central to any future design of a program or platform on CD. The relevance of curriculum in ARD institutions need to be adapted for demand driven by youth and their career prospects but with combining social development with scientific disciplines. Judith Francis made a fantastic statement as a mother and advocate of youth and her support of the issue.

Louise Fortmann

As a crown to all sessions and the most dynamic was the open science at the plenary with very enthusiastic, vibrant, young researchers and seniors with green hearts were there and very nice moderated by young professional Oliver Oliveros. The presentation by Louise Fortman was out of bounds. To describe, many people after the session said the each other, ‘can a presentation be so simple?’ But the take home message was so powerful on blending science and social impact. It went to such a situation, now Louise has her own fan club from GCARD 2010. The session also witnessed the collective message of young researchers on the need for them to be the point of change happening in GCARD, more opportunities like YRS 2010/GCARD 2010 participation, and their commitment back home to attract more youth to ARD.

The session ended with an interactive session breaking some myths on global nutrition and health. The event was summarized very nicely by another young-at-heart person, Rudy Rabbinge. I am leaving for home on the 31st of March, but there is a lot to be followed up from GCARD 2010, which I am looking forward to.

Watch an interview with DR. Ramani by Farming First

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