Reflecting on the year 2019, it is worth noting that the year came with great a pack of diverse experiences for members of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) in Africa. As the curtain has been drawn on the year 2019, a walk down memory lane gives a clear picture of the goings-on in YPARD Africa upon which the prospects of the new year will be built.
New team members
In the past year, YPARD Africa introduced Phidel Haizel as the new Country Representative of YPARD Kenya. Haddy Cessay and Borice Efoua Aba’a were also introduced at the country representatives of the newly established chapters in Gambia and Gabon respectively.
The movement also welcomed Nelson Owoicho and Habimana Jean Claude as Communications Focal Persons for YPARD Nigeria and YPARD Rwanda respectively. This was in a bid to sustain cross-sectional relationships with our partners in both private and public sectors to give youth in their countries a stronger platform to promote agro-innovations and influence agricultural policy planning and implementation.
Youth as agents of technology adoption
60 youth from 20 African countries were selected through an essay competition to participate in the Continental Youth Workshop. This workshop was convened by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in collaboration with YPARD at FARA’s secretariat in Accra, Ghana in May 2019. The submissions made to the essay competition reflected the experiences that competitors amassed as a beneficiary of initiatives involving diverse agricultural institution in their respective countries or region. The workshop was in the context of FARA’s role as the Capacity Development and Technology Outreach Enabler Compact of the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a program funded by the African Development Bank. The workshop was part of actions to initiate the development of a set of guidelines on strategic engagement and capacity development of youth, focused on agripreneurship and scaling of technologies for increased productivity. This was to strategically position youth themselves as problem solvers.
Considering agripreneurship development and the scaling of technologies for increased productivity, the youth participants organised the thematics for youth engagement under four clusters as follows: Application of science; Development of individual agripreneurship skills; Development of collective agripreneurship skills; Youth-led engagement initiatives. In the long run, the young participants were equipped with knowledge on their unique proposition to information platforms to better position them within the innovation platforms (IPs) as they further develop their skills. (Read more about this workshop at these links: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5 )
Youth-led Sustainable Agriculture for Urban Food Systems in East and West Africa
The YPARD in collaboration with Rikolto and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held workshops on Youth-led Sustainable Agriculture for Urban Food Systems in East and West Africa. These workshops were held in Mbale- Uganda and Saly – Senegal respectively.
These workshops offered the opportunity for participants to indulge in training focusing on good agricultural practices for sustainable production. It also facilitated knowledge-exchange between and among young farmers. (Discover more about these workshops at these links: 1; 2; 3)
The YPARD Cafés
YPARD café is a local event organized with the intent to develop the youth network to creatively generate innovative solutions for sustaining agricultural productivity. In this vein, Goma- a post-conflict area in the Democratic Republic of Congo saw its first café organized by YPARD DRC. To reignite hope for the youth in this area, the YPARD Cafe was held to expose 22 of Goma’s young people from several disciplines to agriculture. This offered them the opportunity to learn about some very useful agricultural practices such as grafting, soil conservation and biological control of pests. I would say that YPARD DRC is increasingly becoming the driving force behind the strength of young people in agriculture in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Similarly, our chapter in Gabon by organizing their YPARD Café initiated an agricultural development programme for young people and by young people dubbed YPARD Gabon Tour. This is a programme which promotes the participation of young people in agricultural initiatives, as well as facilitates capacity building and agricultural training for youth. This is geared toward the enhancement of local agri-based products and the empowerment of young people for job creation through agriculture in Gabon.
Testimonials on YPARD’s training in for young professionals in agriculture
In line with the network’s aim to enable young people in agriculture shape sustainable food systems, YPARD continued to commit to training youth in agriculture on processes and actions that would advantageously distinguish them as professionals and poise their businesses to thrive in the sector. At YPARD DRC’s training program on agricultural marketing, Sandra Madidi, president of a local NGO said: "I am impressed by this training as it is important particularly for youth who are just beginning the journey of agripreneurship.”
Lisette Ntumba, a young entrepreneur and participant in these training after being equipped with skills to utilize various available tools to maximize marketing in her venture expressed her readiness to use the knowledge amassed to develop, brand and make her products more visible in the market. (Visit this link to read a blog post on this.)
Follow this link to find out about the many other activities among the various country chapters of YPARD in Africa which were geared towards building the capacity of young professionals in agriculture.
Another feather in YPARD’s cap
YPARD is well known for its convening power as well as experience in managing and coordinating social media reporting on various agricultural conferences. It is, therefore, no wonder that YPARD through the efforts of the Rwandan chapter was recognized by the Africa Potato Association (APA) for our support in -the successful organization of the 11th triennial APA conference 2019
YPARD Rwanda in collaboration with the Youth Engagement in Agriculture Network (YEAN), powered by the International Potato Center (CIP) Rwanda, deployed a team of 6 young social media reporters to cover the conference and thus broadcast the proceedings among social media users onsite and offsite. (Read more about YPARD and YEAN at the 11th APA conference here).
Going forward in 2020, the YPARD network will be strengthened and further expanded across Africa. YPARD Africa will innovatively continue to be a key partner in providing inputs on youth strategies. Empowering young agricultural leaders as shapers of sustainable food systems will continue to be at the heart of YPARD Africa’s activities.
Photo credits: YPARD, Rikolto, Nawsheen Hosenally