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Youth contribution to the feed the future initiative

The YPARD coordinator took part in the online discussion to gather information from stakeholders on various issues related to the United States’ new global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future.  Researchers and other stakeholders were given the chance to consider and provide input to the US government on FTF’s research priorities, and to discuss how best to support and engage with this new program. Some youth-related inputs include: If this strategy is truly focused on future food security, youth must be a key focus.  Fewer young people are choosing to go into agriculture and agricultural research and instead of speculating on what this might mean for future food security, we need to start including youth issues into these future plans and strategies in a concrete way.  Let’s start with what we know and then actually talk to the youth themselves to help us fill in the rest.  The first step is working with governments and the industry to concretely look at the profitability of the agriculture sector, real remuneration for agricultural work and access to capital and funding strategies for those youth who are ready to engage in farming and agribusiness.  For agricultural research, let’s involve and talk to the youth working in this sector and give them some space help us come up with the innovative ideas that may help us deliver better food security in research. Other points include:
  • I think it’s important to work within the realistic situation of young people wanting to move to urban areas to gain experience, knowledge and funds.  I think the shift could start towards looking at why they want to return and work with them to enable that to happen, while bringing with them  these newly acquired skills.
  • There should include mandatory youth participation in the research design and implementation and in advisory roles.  Youth are a key stakeholder in food security and should be considered as partners in the process.  Furthermore, their perspectives could provide value addition in new and innovative ideas.
  • In efforts to increase sustained adoption of new or improved technologies, research has shown that youth are more willing to take up these new technologies.  As such, it makes sense that they become one of the key groups in this area.
  Let’s hope some of these ideas are taken up by the initiative.  We need to work together to represent the youth in ARD and bring their voice to the surface.