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Feeding the planet

FAO participates in youth networks that bring young food producers together from around the world

16/10/2015 - 

FAO is actively collaborating with youth. Just last month at “Mobilizing Generation Zero Hunger”, a high level side event to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, the Director General encouraged young people to be the “Zero Hunger Generation” as the SDGs were formally adopted.

Last week, FAO participated in a global gathering of over 2 500 youth change-makers from 120 countries, representing farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, pastoralists, chefs and food experts. Hosted by the Slow Food Youth Network and supported by FAO, “Terra Madre Giovani - We Feed the Planet” was held in Milan Expo 2015 from October 3 to 6. It put the spotlight on young food producers around the world who are facing tomorrow’s food security challenges.

The event, Terra Madre Giovani - We Feed The Planet provided young food producers from remote locations, who are often underrepresented at such global meetings, with the opportunity to meet and talk about food. Eldos Atai, a young pastoralist from the Kazakh tribe in Mongolia said, “We want to show that pastoralist people are also very important producers. These kinds of events are giving pastoralists all around the world a very big opportunity, now our voices are heard.”

The discussions provided valuable insight into the diversity of food systems and will feed the work that FAO is already doing with indigenous leaders and pastoralists throughout the world. It was a unique opportunity for the Organization to build youth networks and work together in protecting indigenous and pastoral food systems. Due to the nature of their livelihoods, these groups are often more isolated than smallholder farmers and therefore harder to network with.

Indigenous peoples and pastoralists have a wealth of knowledge that has sustained their livelihood for thousands of years. They live in harmony with the land they grow up on and take from it only what they need. “Food is really the answer to every single problem we have right now. Food is medicine, food is health, food is essential to everyday living. The only reason the world goes round is because people are trying to feed themselves,” commented Fahd Malik from the Kalash peoples of the Western Himalayas.

More than one hundred indigenous peoples came to discuss the issues they face in their communities: the loss of their lands, the youth who leave to find work in the cities, and the decline of their languages and traditions were among the mutual problems discussed. “We indigenous peoples have our own indigenous food and it is very important to sustain that for the future because as the older generations are passing away the food is wiping out. Younger people are moving to the cities and forgetting about our traditional food,” said Isa Adamu from the Mbororo community of Cameroon.

Yon Fernandez de Larrinoa, a FAO focal point for indigenous peoples, and one of the speakers at the event commented, “FAO wants to support indigenous peoples in gathering evidence that highlights the nutritional value of their foods, the richness of their knowledge and the ability of their livelihoods to protect their ecosystems”.

 Nicole Maria Yanes from the Opata peoples pointed out that, “People around the world are doing amazing things and working on more sustainable food systems, so it is time for us to come together and to meet and globally make it real so it becomes the new norm.”

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