Synthesis of Deliberations - Outcome of Farmers’ Forum Youth session [IFAD]

Young women and men farmers, representing Farmers’ Organizations as well as Rural (Youth) Associations of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, gathered at IFAD in Rome (Italy) on 18 February 2012 to prepare recommendations to be addressed to Farmers’ Organizations (FOs) representatives, to IFAD and to Governments during the 2012 Farmers’ Forum and IFAD Governing Council. Here follows a summary of the outcomes of their meeting: "We are aware of the high prevalence of poverty and food insecurity in rural areas, particularly in developing countries.  We are aware of the effects of climate change on rural populations’ livelihoods, as well as of the mismanagement and depletion of natural resources. We are also aware of the particular challenges faced by women in agriculture." "We fully believe that there is an urgent need to invest in family farming to create employment, combat poverty and achieve food security today, and to feed the world of tomorrow. We are also aware that, under the current situation, agricultural activities provide limited profitable opportunities.  In addition to this, rural areas lack infrastructure and social facilities. These are some of the reasons why a considerable number of young people, and especially young men, have been leaving their rural communities." "We are optimistic in creating a “new rural reality”, based on a positive image of farming as a dynamic business. We believe that we can be the entrepreneurs of today, by managing sustainable agricultural initiatives. We believe that we, as young people, can make a difference.  Our mobility, adaptability, openness to acquiring new knowledge, and creativity in taking advantage of new opportunities are critical to developing modern agriculture in the rural areas where we live and to reduce the rural/urban divide.  We are also confident that we can be excellent environmental stewards to promote sustainable agriculture." "Unfortunately, we observe that our energies and pro-activeness are generally overlooked and under-utilised.  We need to develop youth-friendly environments that adequately support our initiatives. It is risky for governments and development partners to not seriously and adequately take youth into consideration, as we have noticed in Northern Africa and the Middle East and in some European countries. On the basis of our fruitful exchanges and referring to the successful experiences we shared that support young farmers in agriculture, we are expressing the following recommendations to FOs, the governments, IFAD, FAO and other partners." A stronger representation "We advocate for having our own organizations, so as to best represent the views and interests of rural young men and women. We want to organise and develop advocacy campaigns dedicated to youth issues. We want to be involved in policy making processes from design to implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In this regard, we need (...) support to build and strengthen our institutional capacities. (...)" "We demand more consideration, including more space to express our voice and specificity within FOs. (...) We urge FOs to create effective youth representation mechanisms. (...) Additionally, we ask the Farmers Forum Steering Committee to set up a quota of at least 30% of young farmer representatives for future Farmers’ Forums. At least half of these young farmer representatives should be women." More specific supports "Governments and development partners have been increasingly making efforts to address youth issues. However, even if there are positive outcomes from some youth initiatives, these remain dispersed and should be up-scaled. More recently, international aid has been increasingly allocated to agriculture and food security programmes (...). We ask that a higher percentage of these programmes’ budgets is allocated to specific youth-related interventions. (...) We recommend to governments to increase their budgetary support to the agricultural sector, earmarking more funds to support youth in agriculture. This can be done through specific funds (...). We are equally in favour of developing on- and off-farm activities along the agricultural value chain." Access to natural resources "We are aware that access to land and other natural resources is very context-specific, but it is a challenge for young people everywhere. We call on FOs to initiate mechanisms to enhance young people’s access to land (...). Promotion of cooperatives can also be a way to lease a plot of land more easily, by doing so collectively rather than individually. (...) We also recommend that our governments promote equal access to land for young women through gender sensitive legislations and to train community leaders, (...) to correctly implement these laws. Finally, we urge our governments to implement agrarian reforms to ensure that arable land is only used for agricultural purposes, and to consider future generations’ needs before selling or making available large tracts of land for long periods to national or foreign investors." Access to markets "Access to markets is a big challenge for us. However, there are many examples where well designed programmes supporting youth cooperatives have led to excellent outcomes. (...) We recommend that our skills to learn new technologies are properly valued, particularly in using ICTs (...). Our flexibility in mobility should also be considered by governments and our families as an asset in exploring new markets and improving the efficiency of value-chains. (...) Finally, our innovative spirit can help in exploring new activities and niche markets of organic products and Fairtrade." Access to financial services "Access to credit is a challenge for young people, due to inability to meet banks’ collateral requirements. We recommend innovative solutions, (...). Given the fact that our access to credit is limited, we advocate for incentive measures to help start new activities and promote our initiatives." Access to Knowledge "We recommend that agriculture is included in the school curricula, from primary education onwards. (...) We do not only want education on agricultural production but also along the entire value chain.  Furthermore, inter-generational knowledge sharing should be enhanced and mechanisms should be developed to share the knowledge acquired by the youth who migrated to urban areas with their rural communities." "We recommend that governments promote new training models, (...) which combine traditional and modern knowledge and help young people to become entrepreneurs. (...)" They conclude... "We are confident that our recommendations will be awarded (...). We reiterate our full commitment to participate in policy, programme and project design and implementation, in order to create sustainable employment, fight poverty, and to promote food security." Interested? Read the more about this Special session of the Farmers' Forum.