On July 13th, the International Agri-Food Network, together with a number of leading organizations, hosted the “Agriculture and Food Day” in New York in the margins of the High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development. This day was meant to celebrate, discuss, analyze, and brainstorm around the role of Agriculture and Food in relation to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This special day included a thematically-focused plenary session with high-level speakers including high-ranking UN diplomats; a series of roundtable discussions on inter-linkages in SDGs; and a dynamic luncheon featuring youth in agriculture with the goal to raise awareness of the critical need for investment in Goal 2.
Youth engagement emerged as a fundamental theme to transform agriculture into a more sustainable, productive and attractive sector. Issues such as asset and investments; modernization of the rural world; incorporating agriculture into secondary – and at some level – primary school education; access to markets; and empowering young women farmers were discussed amongst the group led by Gerda Verburg, former Minister of Agriculture of the Netherlands and current Chair of the Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement.
Challenges and solutions
The youth, who represented the crop, livestock and fisheries sectors, mentioned some of the challenges they are facing in today's agricultural sector, together with suggestions to help engage more youth in agriculture:
- Improve access to credit for financial investment in assets.
- Create mentorship programs to help bridge the gap between active or experienced fishers and youth.
- Create opportunities for youth entrepreneurship programs (education, finance investing, and knowledge).
- Improve technical assistance to help farmers and youth to produce more and better (SDG2).
- Address the pervasive patriarchal values of farming and empower young women’s status in decision making and leadership.
- Careers can be aligned to the food revolution and promoted through social media as cool, trendy and sexy.
- More jobs across the whole spectrum of the agri-food value chain need to be visible to young people
- Help develop youth’s strategic and financial acumen for starting a new business.
To learn more about the Youth Luncheon you can read the report here.
To learn more about the Agriculture and Food Day speakers, visit the speaker bio page here.
What do we need to do to attract more youth in agriculture?
A number of puzzle pieces were left blank for the audience to incorporate their own ideas. Once they had written their ideas on the remaining blank puzzle pieces, they took a picture and shared it on social media with the hashtags #Ag4SDGs and #youth.
Follow the ongoing discussion online
For this day, a special hashtag was created (#Ag4SDGs). This hashtag attracted lots of engagement, with a potential reach passing the 1.5 million. The hashtag is still active, so don't hesitate to follow online or through @agrifoodnet on Twitter.