“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
Youth is a time when a growing generation starts to dream about the future – it is a time to think of the pathway to follow, and fearlessly and vigorously makes the first steps.
If young people do choose agriculture, they, as future farmers, will have to produce more food due to population growth, rising consumer purchasing power and a need for diversification of supply systems (including meat products since its production requires more feeding to be provided).
When looking at the Central Asia and Caucasus (CAC) region, the agricultural labor force is rapidly aging, so it is reasonable to have the following questions:
In the future, what kind of people will be the farmers in the region?
What kind of skills do they need?
What incentives may be necessary in order to motivate them to work in agriculture?
What help might they need?
Involving young people in the agricultural sector is a catalyst for positive changes in the future of agriculture. Their willingness and interest in transformation makes it possible to adapt to modern technology and to generate new ideas as well as innovations in agricultural research. Mobility, initiative, and the ability to generate innovative ideas makes young people a priceless resource for any agricultural organization.
Undoubtedly, this is a great merit to the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), which is supported by GFAR. At the global level, young farmers are provided with significant opportunities to contribute, express their views, and take part in debates and discussions. Also, a massive exchange of information helps young people to support each other and work together in the process of agricultural research. There are many examples where the role of young professionals in Agricultural Research & Development (AR&D) was given special attention and it actually resulted in a strategy of development for future generations.
As for the CAC region, it is worth noting that all countries have a national representatives within youth movements, which aims to benefit agricultural science. Unfortunately, the current situation in the region is unsatisfactory when it comes to the lack of involvement and contributions by young scientists and farmers. There is no active YPARD regional network for CAC although it was established. If the 8 YPARD country representatives were more consistently support of young specialists, this could have served to strengthen the national linkages between these specialists within the CAC countries.
So, we must realize that there needs to be an active network of young professionals in CAC countries and this should be each country representative’s key role. Every country should follow to this principle in the region and the 8 country coordinators must work together on a regular basis by sharing knowledge, approaches, techniques, and so on so they can better support young professionals.
So what should be the first steps?
Firstly, the YPARD country representatives in the CAC region should be encouraged to contribute and more actively advocate their work within the Central Asia and Caucasus Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (CACAARI). Potentially, the 8 national YPARD representatives should work together with CACAARI, which would essentially serve as a regional coordinator, so there ultimately is a regional GFAR fora for young professionals. This unique platform would ensure that all these parties actively cooperate and provide mutual support.
Secondly, there should be an assessment carried out to gauge the current state of youth in Agricultural Research for Development in the CAC region. More specifically, the assessment should look at the scientific achievements of young professionals as well as the problems and challenges they quite frequently face.
Thirdly, a regional strategy for agricultural development, focusing on the role and contributions of youth in AR&D should be established.
At this stage, it is important to involve young professionals in AR&D at the decision-making level: that is, policy makers and governments who, in turn, can significantly change and promote the future of agricultural science to a new level. This needs to be a key objective for the YPARD Regional Platform in the CAC region.
We look to the future, which is being formed by a new generation of specialists in agricultural research. They need to be more involved in the AR&D process – this happens to be a primary aim of CACAARI.
Youth are the future of the region, and rural youth are the future of agriculture and agricultural production. So, why don’t we stand together and let our voices be heard?
Blogpost by Rustam Ibragimov, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – ra.ibragimov(at)cgiar.org
Picture courtesy of Rustam Ibragimov
This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.