Many thanks to all those who participated in last week’s forum The Future of Family Farming: Empowerment and Equal Rights for Women and Youth. We received some interesting and innovative commentary and intriguing suggestions on how to promote greater participation in the food system among women and youth.
Commentators agreed that youth and women face many barriers to entry and success in the agricultural sector. One of the major obstacles is lack of access to arable land as well as credit. Diminishing fertile land areas and discrimination against youth and women when applying for loans can discourage these groups from wanting to be involved in agriculture. Commentators also pointed out that lack of education and extension services, inability to access to technology, and lack of access to inputs such as seeds and fertilizer are big barriers to sustainable farming.
Several programs working to promote youth and female participation in agriculture were mentioned in the comments including the European Council of Young Farmers’ (CEJA) Mentoring Women in Entrepreneurship Program (MWE), which provides training courses and cultivates social networks for young women to start their own agribusinesses. And in Malaysia, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA) has developed a program promoting agropreneurs—young people engaging in agriculture, agribusiness, and agrotourism—through extension training and financing incentives.
Participants also offered suggestions for ways that development organizations and governments can better engage women and youth in agriculture. Commentators agreed that educating society as a whole about the value of agriculture is key to increasing participation. Government-sponsored PSAs, for example, can teach youth and women that farming is an economically sustainable profession.
In addition, comments focused on the need to build good soils to ensure the future productivity of agriculture, and the responsibility of governments to bring infrastructure and technology to rural areas to discourage urban migration. Commentators emphasized that increasing agricultural extension training is vital to ensuring productivity and financial success for women and youth in agriculture. CEJA wrote, “For young farmers… it is essential that the attractiveness of the agricultural sector is promoted to them and that vocational education and training in agriculture is widely available, accessible, attractive and affordable.”
Thank you again for your comments--keep them coming!