Attending the recent High Level Policy Dialogue on Investment in Agricultural Research for Sustainable Development in Bangkok was a life-changing experience for YPARD member Joseph Carl “Dax” Olfindo from the Philippines. He shares his experiences.
As a member of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), I was one of five selected to attend the High Level Policy Dialogue in Bangkok. Our main purpose was to report on the event for social media, writing blogs and posts, and working alongside other representatives from organizations like the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and Crops for the Future.
The road to Bangkok for me was not paved with gold. It was rough and full of twists and turns. When I learned of the opportunity to attend the training, I was really excited but hesitant to submit my application. I feared that I might not be good enough for those making the selection. When I found out I was accepted I was over the moon. I remember weeping because I felt this overwhelming feeling that my life was going to change forever through this event, and I wasn’t wrong. Up to this point, my career as an agriculturist has been hit and miss, but mostly misses, and I hadn’t found where I really wanted to go, which direction I wanted to take. I started a company, Dream Agritech Consultancy Services, so I could practice my profession and also help people to fulfil their dreams of having their own farms. We advocate to make unused lands productive to help our country’s growing food security problem. But I digress.
Boot camp begins
Day 1 in Bangkok was set aside for social media training. Peter Casier had all of us in one room, strangers to one another. He forced us to break out from our shells and interact. He gave us information about all the tools that were available to help us online and also shared his insights on how to write a good blog and how to use Twitter in a setting like a conference. The training started early and lasted into the early evening. It was long, but it was needed.
During the training, a lady sat beside me. I noticed from her name tag that she was from the Philippines. She was Dr. Virginia Cardenas, Deputy Director of SEARCA, and was representing APIRAS. By the end of the training, Jim Cano and I found someone who will help us achieve the vision that we have for YPARD and YPARD Philippines.
The Main Event
This pattern, of meeting new people and getting their insights, followed into the next day to the HLPD. We were there to report on the dialogue but it was also an opportunity to meet some of the most influential and brilliant minds in the industry. We had a chance to pick their brains, interact with them and inform them about YPARD. We are glad to have received enthusiastic responses from everyone we talked to. They were glad to see youth represented there.
Being a social media reporter was hard work. Between listening and tweeting, we also tried to absorb all the information that was being fed to us and to use it to write a blog post. I took a special interest on Dr. Dyno Keatinge’s talk about improving nutrition and sustainable agriculture through horticulture. I am a Horticulturist by training and was excited that somebody advocated vegetable farming. I would have liked to have interviewed all of the speakers; to ask questions about how youth can get involved and to put across our perspective. Hopefully I will get the chance to meet them again.
On Day 2 I got my chance to put a question to the experts: “How will you encourage the youth to get into Agriculture?” I wrote about the answer here. Being able to ask that question made me realize that I had a voice, that I had a say in these things, no matter how small that voice is. I am now going to use that voice, and make it bigger and louder to help, not only youth, but all the farmers in the world, especially those who are impoverished.
Opportunity for growth
I am overwhelmed to have been given this opportunity. Going to forums like the HPLD is something that all youth should aspire to do. Not only will you get to travel, but you will get to learn, acquire knowledge and a different perspective. You will be able to see what you can do to improve professionally and personally.
I hope that people are encouraged by my story, especially youth, to be active and to participate. Agriculture should be treated as something that is of the utmost importance. Food production is nothing to scoff at and all of us should act with urgency.
Blogpost and photo by Joseph Carl “Dax” Olfindo, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.