At the High Level Policy Dialogue in Bangkok this week, I put this question to the speakers: “How will you (policy makers, scientists, members of the academia) encourage youth to get involved in agriculture?” Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the response – my heart was beating so loudly and rapidly after asking that question that my mind just went into another dimension. My body was in the room, but my mind wasn’t!
So I rectified this by going around and asking people the same question. And this time I listened.
Kamal Kishore (Coordinator, Rainfed Livestock Network)
There are three critical points. First off, we have to elevate the status of being an Agriculturist. He/she should have prestige. Second, farming should be treated as an enterprise. We have to give access to bank credit and create incentives. Lastly, it should be profitable.
Dr Jared Rizvi (South Asia Regional Director, World Agroforestry Centre)
Our centre works with agroforestry, which is of course, part of agriculture. We are working with youth. We bring young people to our centre for three to six months. The idea is to stimulate their interest in agroforestry and let them know that, even though it’s an old practice, the science part is missing.
Dr Mark Holderness (Executive Secretary, Global Forum on Agricultural Research)
The first thing is to get rural youth to the Dialogue to talk about their future. In the Middle East, we have found that having young people talk about their aspirations for the future is incredibly powerful, both in expressing themselves and also getting to the institutions to listen to what they are looking for. We should help youth shape their future. Second, change the institutions. We look at the universities as an example. Their curriculum could have been set 20 years ago. We should look at new opportunities not just in production, but in processing, value addition, and IT-based services.
We should help them be trained and mentored, not just through formal education (but by) working with companies, giving people opportunities to share their knowledge and engage young people. The future of industries is being driven by youth. They’re not waiting for long term careers; they’re getting on and driving it. We should open up access to land, to credit, (and) address the challenges that stop these young people from getting involved. They’ve got the drive, the energy.
Dr. Sunil B. Lal (Pro- Vice Chancellor- Administration, Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology & Sciences)
Increase willingness and interest, because some youth don’t like to work as agriculturists. If they are willing, give facilities and mechanization. Youth today are technocrats.
Dr. Abdul Halim (Head, Department of Agriculture, PNG University of Technology)
The most important thing is incentives. They must feel the need to get involved in agricultural activities. Increase job security, food security for the agriculturist and the family. Increase the prospects for youth to build a career in agriculture. They should create new jobs, instead of traditional agriculture; it should be market-driven agriculture. In Papua New Guinea, youth take advantage of the available resources that they have and they always look for things which have high demand in the market. They should also be inspired through agriculture activities and training.
Dr. Virginia Cardenas (Deputy Director l-Administration, SEARCA; Steering Committee member, GFRAS; APIRAS)
Make them attracted to agriculture through the following activities. First, create awareness of economic opportunities in agriculture using various communication media, especially social media, and field visits to successful agro-entrepreneurs. Secondly, demonstrate that agriculture is profitable and a sustainable livelihood system. Third, development agencies should help them be innovative. Create a small-scale test for appreciation and evaluation.
Help should be readily available to them when they decide to go into agriculture. Support services should be accessible to allow them to practice agriculture. We should also organize them and help them think and behave like entrepreneurs. Business advisers will be needed and, of course, government and private sector support.
Youth movement… Does youth move us, or do we need to move the youth?
All those I spoke to seem to agree on these things:
- Make agriculture attractive by making it profitable and prestigious.
- Provide access to support services like banks, organizations and other agencies.
- Provide facilities for learning, especially through demonstrations.
- Innovate, inspire, involve.
Throughout the meetings, a common theme was that fewer young people are working in agriculture. It was repeatedly stated that the youth tend to be disenchanted with agriculture and seek higher-paying jobs that do not entail as much work.
I, personally, am disappointed with my generation. Few are willing to go into this sector because they fail to see the need for food production. In the Philippines, some students tend to look down at agriculturists, not knowing what it takes to be one. They would go for these so-called, glamorous jobs for high pay, and minimal work.
There is an active need for the youth to get involved. To feed a growing population, we need more workers in this field, more people to produce food and at the same time, be the custodians of this planet we call Earth.
If I were to pitch the idea of being an agriculturist to my peers, I would simply say this: The number of times you eat in a day is the number of times you should thank a farmer.
Blogpost and photo by Joseph Carl “Dax” Olfindo, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – josephcarlolfindo(at)gmail.com
Photo Courtesy Jim Cano – #GCARD3 Social Reporter, jim.cano7(at)gmail.com
This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Asia and Pacific region. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.