4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day at Rio+20: Focus on youth
The 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) was held on 18th June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The ARDD took place in parallel with the United Nation's Conference on sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20. More than 500 participants attended the event comprising of high level policy makers, scientists, negociators, journalists, farmer organizations, civil societies and other stakeholders in agriculture, and an estimated additional 500 people who could not make it to Rio, followed the event through the live webcast, and got the opportunity to interact with the panellists via Twitter and Facebook.
The purpose of the ARDD was to examine implementation successes and challenges in moving towards transformed food systems that enable food security and sustainable development.
The 4th ARDD had the following 3 objectives:
What does it take to get Agriculture, Fisheries and forestry to be part of a transformed food system that meets new food and environmental needs?
What are the mechanisms that improve access to information, enhance interactions among land managers (such as farmers) and experts - and increase the use of appropriate technologies for sustainable land management?
How can science contribute to providing tools, technologies and approaches in support of a more integrated management of land, forests and water resources?
As a youth in Agriculture and a YPARD intern, I followed the live webcast of the ARDD and was also tweeting on the event. Discussions were on various issues related to agriculture, environment, fisheries, forests, water, energy, climate change, smallholder farmers, women, youth, science and technology among others. This blog post highlights mainly the issues on youth and agriculture that were raised at the ARDD.
The ARDD started with a video projection in which there are 7 recommendations to achieve food security sustainably. This video can be viewed below:
The issue of youth and Agriculture was raised in the first panel which was on "How Agriculture will address the Rio+20 Challenges?", with a question asked by YPARD via Twitter. The question was "How do you make farming more appealing for the next generation of youth?"
According to Anne Dalane, the Regional Director of Latin America, Yara International, people say that nobody wants to work with an old fashioned industry (like fertiliser), but what Yara International has experienced is that today Agriculture is on the top of the agenda because everybody believe that "without sustainable Agriculture, we cannot have a sustainable future". Therefore, going to university and working on global issues is something that people (youth) are actually finding "Sexy".
On the other hand, the Coordinator of the Agribusiness Center Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and former Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (Brazil), Hon. Roberto Rodrigues believes that youth are being attracted to Agriculture because they are being idealistic and beginning to understand that Agriculture has an important role in a modern world when it has to do with conservation of the environment and increasing food production. Hence, we should take this opportunity to tap their idealism of being attracted to agriculture and make the most of it. On the other hand, he also highlighted that youths need cash, respect and status, and Agriculture needs to be given more respect, and admiration by the world. This would imply concrete public policies!
In the same panel, Dyborn Chibonga, who represented farmer organizations, claimed that using Conservation Agriculture method and new technologies, youth can be attracted to Agriculture and in the next 5 years they can stay in Agriculture without having to use the hand hoe.
The issue of youth was raised again in the afternoon panel on "Responding to the Global Challenges for a food secure future", whereby the panellists recognised the importance of having women in Agriculture and they made an appeal to young women from the audience to aspire for leading positions in Agriculture research, extension, policy etc. Moreover it was also agreed that there is a need for institutional reforms and time has come to have institutions for women in Agriculture and these can be new opportunities for the youth.
Mary Robinson, the President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice (MRFCJ), started her presentation on "Science for the people: the climate justice approach" by sharing with the audience that young people have advantages over the older generation when it comes to technology. she gave the example of how quickly her grand-children learned to play a game on her iPad when she was teaching them. According to her, we need to listen to and understand people's needs and find ways to respond to them. She linked human rights, innovation, technology, poverty, poverty and hunger and emphasised that the right to food is a basic human right. When questioned on the growth areas in terms of youth opportunities in climate justice, she said that today, young people are more "connected" to solve issues related to climate justice (social media for example) and they have to organise ways for a safe and sustainable future. There is a need to look for leadership in young people, harness their energy and capabilities to deal with climate justice.
In the last panel, which was on "Taking messages from the day forward to Rio+20 and beyond", Ann Tutwiler, the Deputy Director General, of Food andAgriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), summarised the day through her presentation in which she mentioned again the need to have a leadership network and youth leadership in Agriculture.
For those who missed the event, thay can have an over-view of the ARDD by viewing the following video which is the last part of the webcast that summarises the different panels and sessions for the day:
As concluded by Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), the Agriculture and Rural Development Day has been a success with 1000 participants and she proposed WEFFA (Water, Energy, Fish, Forest, Agriculture) Day to be the next ARDD!