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YPARD –Latin America and the Caribbean, present at the Sixth Meeting of Foragro in Lima

The Sixth Meeting of the Forum for the Americas on Agricultural Research and Technology Development (FORAGRO), which took place on 21-23 August 2012 in Lima, Peru, gathered a diverse group of participants and lecturers: agriculture ministers, directors of INIAs, directors of international research centers, university rectors and lecturers, senior researchers, representatives of the so-called Procis, leaders of producer groups, private sector representatives and consultants. This is precisely the meeting in which YPARD and its branch in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) also participated, through their representatives: Luis Suárez, our voice in the Executive Committee of the Forum, and Andrea Carvajal, as coordinator and focal point for the region, hosted by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). This Sixth meeting revolved around the topic of More and Better Partnerships for Innovation in Family Farming in LAC, the main objective being a scenario to discuss the proposals that will be presented on behalf of the region, during the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 2012) to be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, from 29 October to 1 November 2012. On the first day, discussions focused on scenarios up to 2030 and agrifood challenges in LAC; the prospective vision of family farming and the status of the hemispheric system of technology and innovation; the main results of the study on the state of facts; prospects and challenges of the INIAs in LAC, and the current situation and prospects of international research and research programs of the CGIAR Consortium in LAC. During this first day, the concept of generational change-over was mentioned several times with concern in contexts such as decision making, the renewal of the human talent team that will continue with the responsibility of agricultural research, the need for young professionals to be interested not only in issues such as climate change, but also in plant breeding and other, perhaps more "classic", branches of agricultural research.   Right in the middle of the agenda of the second working day, YPARD-LAC was allocated 30 minutes to present, before more than 100 participants, in what consists this platform, where not only young people participate, but also all those senior researchers and professionals who have skills, knowledge and experience of great importance and value for the youth. YPARD-LAC also took this opportunity to share with the audience a 12-minute multimedia product which presented the different perceptions of various researchers and professionals of CIAT, CIMMYT and CIP on the challenges, opportunities, and concrete actions to undertake on the topic of generational change-over. (See multimedia product in Spanish only). This multimedia product highlighted opinions ranging from the urgent need to make generational change-over a process that is part of the organizational culture of national and international research centers, which is stated in the budgets of the institutions; to the need to also change the mindset of senior researchers and professionals, to consider young people not as a threat, but an opportunity to pass their knowledge, experience and knowledge to into new hands which give them continuity. This multimedia product also accounts for the importance of enhancing and expanding activities such as internships and exchanges, as mechanisms that allow identifying new talents and continually oxygenating and strengthening the work teams. What is the next step? This was the question addressed by several participants interested in being an active part of the actions that could be undertaken to start moving towards a process of gradual generational change-over in the LAC region. Stakeholders ranging from women producers committed to the issue of gender equality, who see in platforms like YPARD opportunities to realize the generational change-over and the change in attitude towards the role of women in the field of agricultural research for development; through senior researchers anxious to know a bit more about the role of mentors, to young professionals interested in being part of the network, benefitting from capacity-building opportunities and participating in mentoring processes. YPARD-LAC shared with them some initial ideas that have been asked about the launch of both the documentation of informal mentoring processes that have taken place in research centers such as CIAT, and the gradual implementation of a pilot mentoring program to be developed in the LAC region. Among the main commitments made following this Sixth Foragro meeting are to implement a hemispheric agenda of innovative technological development of family farming, and to strengthen agricultural innovation systems through a culture of results, impact assessment and accountability. Equally important are the commitments undertaken to strengthen the role of women and youth in the region through mechanisms like this Forum.