Improving Capacity Development to Retain Youth in Agriculture

In order to feed a world of nine billion people by 2050, we need more people working in agriculture in all its forms. Despite the universal agreement on the importance of agriculture to our future, we are not succeeding in attracting young people to the field. While the reasons for this are many, we believe that one central problem in the context of capacity-development programs is insufficient attention to the creation and maintenance of meaningful and supportive networks post-program. 

Many excellent capacity-development programs for young agricultural leaders exist; a few inspiring examples have already been mentioned in this discussion. To the credit of those programs illustrated here, several highlight the importance of their post-program network. We see formal, committed networks – which, depending on context, might connect people in a particular geographical area; build relationships between new farmers and experienced ones; improve integration between various actors along the food value chain; provide fora for discussing problems and solutions across locales; and more – as serving many functions in supporting impactful young agricultural leaders. First, being part of a formal network helps increase access to investment and mitigate risk, since networks multiply connections. This fact is particularly essential to youth, whose individual networks may not provide the resources they need to begin their careers in agriculture. Second, networks, even largely virtual ones, help to satisfy social needs that can be compromised when one chooses a life in agriculture. They also provide opportunities for formal and informal mentorship. Third, and perhaps most importantly, active networks create an enabling environment in which partnerships between agripreneurs are born. Active networks can be considered in some ways as incubators for grassroots problem-solving of not only SDG2 but many of the other goals as well.

Modern technology can and should absolutely play a central role in establishing and maintaining networks of support, enabling knowledge sharing, and encouraging innovation. While having strong connections with other farmers and agripreneurs in one’s geographical area provides one type of essential support, the nature of technology provides a complement to local knowledge in the form of geographically diverse problem solving. Activating such networks is not only a key way to fast-track the implementation of solutions; it is also a way to clarify to young agricultural leaders that they are part of a meaningful global profession, not a lone farmer in the field. 

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Discovering Oats in Mexico

On 9 November 2017, in the context of the World diabetes day, POGA and the Mexican federation of diabetes jointly co-organised a workshop and cooking training to promote the benefit of oats as part of a healthy diet for people suffering from diabetes. The event was hosted by the culinary school Colegio Superior de Gastronomia, the first gastronomic university in Latin America, and attracted 40 attendants including many young people affiliated to the Mexican federation of diabetes, media reporters and radio speakers. 

This initiative followed a series of activities that POGA has carried out in Mexico in the previous months such as the website – avenacanada.com - where Mexican visitors can find information on all the nutritional properties of oats, the Facebook page with more than 170,000 followers and the two recipes contests for which Mexicans enthusiastically created more than 180 new recipes based on oats and local ingredients. 

In the very first part of the event, POGA and the expert of the Mexican federation of diabetes provided basic information on oats and diabetes. Including whole grains in the diet, like oats, is an important step for a healthy life. Oats are gluten free and a valuable source of carbohydrates, essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. Oats are especially ideal for people suffering from diabetes as they have a very low glycaemic food that does not cause spikes in blood sugar, and improve glucose regulation and insulin.

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The Communicator highlights induction into Ag Hall of Fame


I am so grateful to CAAR for the role they played in my early career, and for their continued support. The association took a big chance on me. CAAR has written an article highlighting my upcoming induction.

Read the full article here. 

Is the #young generation ready to lead us into a sustainable tomorrow?

The perennial leaders who have used their experience to lead us are increasingly out of step in a world of grassroot and global movement spread by the digital revolution- and led by a new generation. 

The youth of today are leading the charge for better world and they will be leaders tomorrow. It’s time we provided them with the expertise and institutional knowledge to carry out the plan we’ve built to sustain our planet through 2030 – the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Achieving the SDGs is not an easy task, nor a quick one; it requires an intergenerational approach precisely because the actions we take today will affect the lives of future generations. For this reason, over the next 13 years and beyond, young people the world over will need to lead our efforts to achieve the SDGs. They will also bear the consequences of inaction, and as such have the biggest stake in the success of the SDGs.

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UN Signals Positive Role for Forestry in Food Security and Nutrition


Forests cover 30.6% of the Earth’s land area (nearly 4 billion hectares) and are essential to human well-being and sustainable development. An estimated 1.6 billion people – 25% of the global population – depend on forests for subsistence, livelihood, employment and income generation. 

However, the role that forestry plays in food security and human nutrition remains under-researched, and under-appreciated by policymakers. Very often, in the context of halting deforestation, we hear “protect forests, do agriculture better” – but where is the role for forestry itself? Despite the crucial contribution of forests to Food Security and Nutrition, deforestation and forest degradation continue in many regions of the world. Greater policy focus on sustainable forestry will help strengthen food security and promote nutritionally adequate diets. 

I wish to congratulate the United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS) on having selected forestry as a key issue to work on as promoting sustainable forest management as essential to delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

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Registration open for UNEA-3: The UN Environment Assembly

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on environmental action. The Assembly provides environment ministers, stakeholders, and experts from around the world an opportunity to come together to discuss environmental challenges and work on resolutions to advance climate action.

This year’s session, the third UNEA (UNEA-3), will take place from December 4th to December 6th in Nairobi, Kenya, on the theme “Towards a Pollution-free Planet”. The outcomes of the Assembly are expected to include a political declaration on importance of acting against pollution, supported through voluntary commitments to reduce pollution by governments and stakeholders. In addition, member States are expected to consider resolutions on issues ranging from marine debris to lead paint. 

UNEA provides a unique platform for dialogue on environmental sustainability and a number of activites will take place before and during the Assembly, offering additional opportunities for high-level engagement and discussion:

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CFS44: Agriculture and Food and its potential to Achieve the SDGs

Throughout the Sustainable Development Goals process, the International Agri-Food Network has been engaged in the negotiations. As part of the Global Business Alliance, we have placed a priority on the 5 P’s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. 

The SDGs place People-centred approaches at the core of the development aspirations of the UN. Agriculture programs are needed that are ‘farmer-centred and knowledge-based’ so that the full potential of farmers, both men and women can be harnessed. Farmers need access to land, water, knowledge, inputs, and credit to grow a crop and functioning markets to sell their products. 

The private sector plays a central role in sustainable development and human prosperity and serves as an essential partner. In fact, a recent PwC study indicated that 92% of businesses are aware of the SDGs, 71% of businesses are planning how they will respond to SDGs and 13% have already identified the tools they need to do so. 

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CFS44: Urbanization, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition

Demographics are changing. Just over half of the global population lives in towns and cities, and absolute numbers of rural inhabitants are projected to begin declining in the near future.  

Policies and interventions will have to adopt an integrated approach to development, dealing with rural and urban regions not as distinct and isolated environments, but as part of a unified continuum of food systems. Policies should seek synergistic solutions in order to enable agriculture, not at the expense of either urban or rural populations, but to their mutual advantage.

The UN Committee on Food Security (CFS) has begun to reckon with this challenge, firstly by hosting a high level forum on urbanization, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition in the fall of 2016. This was an opportunity for policy-makers and experts to exchange views and discuss practical experiences on the challenges, opportunities, and positives outcomes that have resulted from more integrated approaches to managing these processes of change. Following this, based both on the discussions at the forum and submissions sent in through the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition, the CFS created a compilation document of experiences and effective policy approaches entitled “addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics”, which will be officially endorsed at the next plenary session of the CFS in October. 

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World Pulses Day endorsed by FAO Conference

The Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is the foremost governing body of the agency, endorsed a proposal to celebrate February 10th as an annual World Pulses Day during its 40th plenary session in July 2017. Galvanized by the important achievements of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, and wishing to build on its successes, the Conference acknowledged the enormous value of pulse production and consumption for food security, human health, and the environment, and requested that the UN General Assembly, at its next session, consider declaring World Pulses Day as an annual observance.

Pulses represent some of the most sustainable crops it is possible to grow. They are one of the most important sources of plant-based protein for people around the globe. They can have a positive impact on the management of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and coronary conditions. Their nitrogen-fixing properties allow them to play a role in combatting soil degradation and exhaustion. They also require less water than many other traditional staple crops, and between 50% and 83% less than many animal sources of protein. This makes them hugely significant in a world undergoing dramatic and rapid climactic transformations, as they can make contributions to both climate change adaptation and mitigation.  This is why it is more crucial than ever that the international community continue to raise awareness of the benefits of growing and eating pulses, in order to further production, promote research, and improve diets.

World Pulses Day will be a key part of this. It will be a vital opportunity to highlight the role that pulses can play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will be an occasion for all stakeholders to come together to celebrate the progress made in leveraging pulses for a healthier and more food secure world, and to assess the challenges that remain and mobilize to overcome them. It is my hope, therefore, that the General Assembly, this fall, will take into account the recommendations of the FAO Conference, and those of the FAO Council and the Ouagadougou Declaration before that, and recognize February 10th as World Pulses Day.     

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CFS44: Nutrition

The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) selected nutrition as one of its key workstreams for 2016–2018 and will have a major role in shaping nutrition debates in the context of the SDGs and the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) outcomes.

The PSM Working Group on Nutrition brings together key stakeholders from across the agri-food value chain, including farm representatives, businesses, and nutritionists. The Working Group follows closely the CFS work stream on nutrition and participates in the Open-Ended Working Group and the Technical Task Team on Nutrition.

Multi-stakeholder engagement plays a critical role in kick-starting new nutrition programs to address the challenges brought by all facets of malnutrition. Private Sector Mechanism members have been raising the importance of issues such as food safety, nutritional education and targeted interventions to address stunting and wasting. Nutritional interventions must be prioritised, particularly geared to addressing the needs of women, children, and the most vulnerable. This requires progressive programming and a willingness to work together. Innovation, research, education, and trade are essential to improving access to quality foods. All of which is underpinned by the essential role of farmers to produce the food we eat.

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