Youth and Agriculture: Fresh Approach for a New Paradigm The CGIAR Science Forum 2011 held from 17th-19th October 2011 in Beijing, China under the theme “The Agriculture-Environment Nexus “ was organized by the Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC) of the CGIAR in cooperation with the Consortium Board of the CGIAR, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS). The uniqueness of this year’s Forum was the presence and participation of young scientists and YPARD members, and this aspect was duly acknowledged by the chair of ISPC, Kenneth Cassman. As YPARD participants in the forum, we herewith assemble wide-ranging perspectives on Youth and Agriculture. The need for youth participation in agriculture was deliberated during conference with concerns over the ageing farming community as young generation of agriculturists do not consider the field of agriculture very lucrative. It was commonly agreed that sensitizing the youth to get involved in agricultural production and environmental conservation is vital.The active involvement of youth in agriculture would require new approaches to address increased productivity and profitability of farming through policy and institutional support, technology application, improved market links and capacity building. It was reasoned that in order to gain attractive financial returns from the agriculture, the new generation of agriculturists needs connection to technology and institutional/ policy backing to optimize operations for all points of the agricultural value chain. In many developing countries general population of poor farmers including marginal number of young farmers involved in agriculture use inefficient means of production, thereby not gaining much return from their investments. It calls for sensitization, capacity building and active participation of youth in agriculture and environment value chain management. Diverse perspectives for effective involvement of youth in agriculture were discussed by the Young Professionals among themselves and with the experts. Some key points are listed.
- Emphasis on research on profitability of agriculture or to re-establish the reputation of agriculture as a profitable venture is pertinent in order to align with the broad objectives of food security, environmental management and livelihoods improvement.
- Capacity strengthening on practical skills in agriculture for increased productivity, enterprise diversification and knowledge building on technology transfer looks as an indispensable investment
- Monitoring and evaluation of youth participation in agriculture and their access to agricultural production resources and services seems essential for their active involvement
- Need of agricultural policies to assist rural youth in context of capacity building both at national and local levels is a pre-requested support structure for this goal
- Integrate agriculture courses at the primary and secondary education system can play an effective role in enhancing the interest and attention of young minds. While this is already in action in some regions , emphasises should be laid for its scaling this initiative in wider geographical domains