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YPARD Spain at the Agrarian Research for Development conference 2017

After the success of the first Spanish Conference of Agrarian Research for Development many years ago, the second was held by the Technical University of Madrid between the 22nd and 23rd of March, 2017 with the objective to gather the main actors in the sector  such as NGOs, universities, cooperation agencies, research centers, etc. to discuss the problematic it is facing due to the lack of public funding and the difficulty for development researchers to get their work recognized in academia.The main attendants to the conference were the Spanish Agency for International Development CooperationEuropeAid, the National Institute for Agricultural Research and Technology, and the Technical University of Madrid. However, since the conference was open to the public, many master and Ph.D. students from around the country came to present their research or attend the presentations. Representatives of the aforementioned institutions presented the main challenges the sector will face on a medium to long-term scale and agreed that the sector needs to find new ways to get funding, possibly from the private sphere.The tremendous problem of Spanish development researchers is that their work is not truly recognized in academia, given that applying for a job as a professor research in development does not actually count as research work in Spain. This problem gets exacerbated when it is paired with the agriculture field as it has been one of the most neglected areas of investment in Spain historically. An array of possible solutions for this problematic was shared among the presenters, such as compel deans and evaluation tribunals at universities to take into consideration research in development and development projects as evaluative criteria. The other main suggestion was to incorporate agriculture as obligatory in the primary and secondary education curriculum.Presenting YPARD Spain to key national actorsAs the YPARD Spain national representative attending the conference, I presented YPARD and its objectives for young people in Spain. I also got to meet with other organizations sharing common values and objectives. This was an optimal opportunity for YPARD Spain to be introduced to key national actors, and create bonds with them. One of these was “Agronomos sin Fronteras” an NGO which brings students in agricultural majors to the field to do their bachelor or master’s thesis with the technical help of professors. They are mainly working in Iringa region, a very isolated area in Tanzania, but they are trying to also work in Mozambique. They focus on three main areas which includes providing farming training (for more than 5,000 farmers so far), developing extension services in the area and promoting the formation of farmer´s cooperatives. Feedback, outcomes and recommendationsThe attendees provided valuable input after the YPARD Spain presentation regarding the ways to look forward and the network’s development in Spain. As an example, it was advised that YPARD should be present at more national conferences where new contacts can be created. The main objective of YPARD in promoting agriculture among the youth will become pivotal to ameliorate the bad image agriculture has in the present technology era, which was as well one of the purposes of this conference. This demonstrates the high potential that YPARD has to grow and interlink generations.I believe that attending these types of events is quite beneficial as they can help to ensure that YPARD Spain and YPARD in general is taken into account and can also be useful for networking and to create partnerships. I got many new contacts that I am sure will play an important role in the development of YPARD Spain’s network, opening up new paths for cooperation between YPARD Spain and other organizations.Picture credit: Victor Suarez Villanueva, YPARD Spain national representative.