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How can technology reduce the gap between youth and agriculture?

How technology can reduce the gap between youth and agriculture?From 24 to 27 of June, the World Farmers’ Organization held in Milan the general assembly having three main topics to discuss: 1) respond to the nine billions world population with sustainable, equitable and inclusive solutions; 2) smart solutions for facing climate evolution; 3) meeting growing agricultural challenges with innovation solutions.

As the Italian representative for YPARD, I was invited to attend the third session in order to present the youth position in the agricultural sector and the role of technology in this process. I explained that nowadays young people are much more interested in agriculture than twenty years ago when they were much more concerned about finding jobs in the cities and agriculture was not considered to be as important as today.

Few years ago, this negative vision changed due also to the appearance of technology applied to agriculture. As the Zambia National Farmers Union’s representative explained, the arrival of mobile phones, for example, helped youth but also old farmers to increase the communication among farmers to anticipate and solve any problem linked with cultivations.

In Europe, technology has been pushed further with the use of webcams to monitor the cattle remotely and the set-up of high speed internet favoring the realization of data transmission networks. This has also contributed to promote contacts with companies spread around the world, exchange best practices, and to identify the most suitable agricultural techniques being also useful for the e-commerce to directly sell agricultural products. The latter thus allowed pulling out the agricultural world from the “mediaeval” stage where it was.

These events attract more and more youth starting to understand that agriculture can be a precise science needing prepared and actualized farmers. In Italy, for example, farmers drones will be used soon allowing the leap towards a '"precision agriculture". A hobby like to pilot the drones will soon become a real job indeed. The target is the young entrepreneurs aiming to raise youth employment in the agricultural sector.

Start-ups led by youth and supported by universities (e.g. Polytechnic University of Turin) already has put in practice new methods controlling several parameters (such as water) and pests (e.g. Waterview, Resolving, iXem, Microla, Evolvea e ItalianID).

The remaining challenge is to continue to engage more actively young people into discussions, conferences and seminaries to decrease their lack of involvement in the agricultural sector. Concerning this point all participants agreed to explain how in their respective countries a shift is currently happening.

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Picture credit: © Henry Arden/Corbis