Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Representatives from nine Asia-Pacific International Farm Youth Exchange (ASPA IFYE) countries meet in Thailand

Representatives from nine Asia-Pacific International Farm Youth Exchange (ASPA IFYE) countries meet in Thailand

Thailand, 09 Sep 2005 -- Some 200 ASPA IFYE members and representatives met in Pattaya, Thailand from 4 to 8 September 2005 on the occasion of the Sixth ASPAC IFYE Conference. Participating countries included Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The IFYE is closely linked to the cross-cultural International 4-H Youth Exchange programme. Since its establishment in 1948, 4-H clubs have helped thousands of young people from across the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the South Pacific in learning about life in other lands, strongly believing that world peace can be facilitated through learning of each others' cultures and the promotion of mutual understanding.

The conference was organized by the Department of Agricultural Extension of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand. The previous conference was held nine years earlier in Indonesia in 1996.

The theme of the conference was "Farm Youth Networking for Rural Development", with five topics under which group discussions took place: networking, an important tool for development; agro-tourism; Farm Youth Exchange Programme in the Next Decade; refocusing government's policy on Farm Youth Development; and
contribution of Farm Youth to society.

The participants were invited to present and exchange ideas and suggestions regarding these topics, in order to share information about the actual "youth condition" in each country; share information from institutions or groups having innovative programmes and best practices in this field; and develop a programme of work that can be adopted and implemented in the member countries.

The keynote address was delivered by Malcom Hazelman, FAO's senior extension, education and communications officer for Asia and the Pacific. In his address titled "Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Youth in Asia and the Pacific" he advocated for "Rethinking of the future for rural youth" via investments in skills training, in appropriate technologies and micro-finance, in capacity building for youth-led and youth serving organizations and also in revitalizing rural education and training. The presentation drew on lessons from case studies undertaken by FAO in Asia and the Pacific including experiences gleamed from national rural youth meetings which highlights the important role rural youth have in regards food security and sustainable agricultural development including the role of youth in addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The presentation was well received and commented on favorably by the President of the ASPA IFYE Association Dr Charlie H.Y.Lu and by many board members.

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