Activating Youth Voices in Agriculture
What role for the next generation in agriculture? Fresh from the WFO’s Gymnasium, Youth Ag-Summit delegate Cameron Olson shares his belief in the power of youth in shaping farming’s future.
The future of agriculture is in good hands. That is my biggest take-away, after spending three days in Berlin with the leaders of twenty national young farmers’ organizations. I was honored to partake in the 2nd World Farmers’ Organisation Gymnasium as a representative of the 2017 Youth Ag Summit, along with my fellow alumnus Kamau Lindhardt.
The Gymnasium has been developed to provide youth with intensive training on a range of agricultural subjects, from livestock well-being to government policy, and from crop science to business management. Held in Berlin in mid-January, the 2nd Gymnasium brought together the leaders of national Young Farmers’ organizations from around the world to discuss the challenges surrounding global livestock production. Topics included an animal well-being presentation from Bayer Animal Health, with a focus on improving animal well-being using innovative medications, while fighting to reduce antimicrobial resistance, as well as dialogue with Franz Josef Feiter, a former German Secretary of State for agriculture, about the policy challenges in offering agricultural assistance to developing economies.
In between, Kamau and I had the opportunity to meet many of the other delegates, and in the true spirit of the YAS, we both found several new couches to sleep on all around the world!
Dr. Norbert Mencke is explaining why animal health and well-being matter.
Perhaps the most unique and exciting thing about this Gymnasium was that it was held in conjunction with the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA). This provided us the rare opportunity to write and deliver a statement to international agriculture ministers who were attending the event. It was no easy task to organize 22 young farmers – all with different languages, cultures, and regional challenges – to produce a unified statement which adequately addressed the major concerns shared by young farmers around the world. However, with grit and excellent leadership, we were able to meet our deadline and develop a statement, read to the assembled agricultural ministers at the GFFA in the sincere hope that their governments could help, rather than hinder, the advancement of young farmers.
Some of the major points we offered these ministers included ensuring access to affordable and profitable land; improvement of research and development opportunities; collaboration with industry in providing accurate, science-based communication regarding the production and safety of food to consumers; and development of global strategies which are based on facts and science – not emotion and rhetoric. These are all pressing challenges for agriculturalists around the world, which, if addressed, would greatly assist the next generation in the fight to feed a hungry planet.
I am excited and honored that Kamau and I were able to represent the 2017 YAS at the Gymnasium, and wish all the best to the young farmers who will continue to be involved. It’s very clear that young farmers are passionate about their own role in securing the future of food. Indeed, the future of farming is in very good hands!