I work with Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) and while we focus on youth active in the agricultural sector from the age of 18, we understand that the decisions and attitudes towards disciplines are formed at an earlier age.
Our experience with secondary schools: Some of our members who have made successful careers in the agricultural sector have been supported to go to secondary schools in their country to tell their story. We know that not only is there is minimal and negative education on farming and the agricultural sector, but there is also little coverage on what the different possibilities are in this sector; such as opportunities further along the value chain or how to bring value addition closer to the farm. This approach is meant to provide a measured understanding of what is possible - not agriculture is wonderful for everyone and everyone should do it, but this is what you could do, if you so choose. Feedback we receive is that the students appreciate learning about what the different opportunities are and these are largely new for them.
Our experience on what rural youth want: I do think that initiatives that look at youth employment in agriculture also need to work with rural development programmes. Research that we conducted recently in Morocco on the aspirations of young rural people revealed that instead of identifying key critical skills that they need for the job of their dreams, they were still asking for better roads and schools as their top priorities. Thus, our approaches should work within context specific realities as well as with other programmes addressing some of the root causes of poverty.
Thanks for the discussion.
Courtney Paisley, YPARD Director
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The importance of having youth input into new strategies for Central Asia, China and all other countries/regions cannot be understated. To create systems whereby the youth are interested and committed to becoming involved in agriculture, they must be involved in priority setting. Agricultural innovation systems must make provisions for youth inclusion and input if they are to create any sustainable change.
We know that in many countries decisions are taken by leaders at the highest level without inclusion of other groups. These are not inclusive and can never make real revolutions in the food system that impacts all of those who are part of it. Interesting discussion and thanks to Botir Dosov, who has been calling upon young professionals to contribute to this discussion.