As a Ph.D. student working on the topic of youth in agribusiness in Africa, I am ever eager to meet more professionals and passionate people moved by the same themes of my research. So on a rainy day in November I made it to KIT’s monumental building in East Amsterdam for the ‘Youth in agriculture meet & greet’, an event organized by YPARD-Netherlands. Besides the attending students, Ph.D. candidates and young professionals, there were 8 development stakeholders, all engaged in supporting agribusiness initiatives for youth worldwide and particularly in Africa: Agriprofocus, Food&Business Knowledge Platform, Slow Food Youth Network, YPARD Netherlands, ICRA, KIT, CDI and FoodFirst. In turns, the representatives pitched the initiatives promoted by their organization, and challenged the audience with a provocative statement. Each stakeholder reflected on the role of youth in agriculture, in the Netherlands and around the globe, bringing in different perspectives, approaches and visions for youth and for agriculture. The debate that followed was stimulating and some intriguing questions were raised:
Are the challenges faced by youth in agribusiness youth-specific? Or are they rather systematic challenges for the whole (inter)national agrifood sector?
Are young people to be targeted as a vulnerable social group or as the change makers and future of agriculture?
What is the capacity of absorption of agribusiness for youth unemployment in developing countries?
Who is going to grow our food, here in the Netherlands, if farms continue to shut down at such an alarming pace?
These and more questions were raised and discussed, confirming the timeliness and burning need for a public debate on youth and agribusiness. “Let’s discuss this further, maybe in a café”, suggested a student, while participants from the organizations present invited the public to take part in more formal gatherings such as the Community of Practice on youth in agribusiness facilitated by Agriprofocus and Food&Business Knowledge Platform. And the event ‘Join-up with African Agripreneurs’ organized by FoodFirst.
YPARD Netherlands will keep you posted – stay tuned!
Picture credits: 1 & 2Ingrid Flink, 3 Silvia Sarapura