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Inciting Youth for Reshaping Agriculture

Surjan taking care of his plantsAs a child being raised in an urban livelihood, I was constantly being told that the rice grain that filled our lunch plate came from the stacks of jute sacks and the milk I drank every morning came from polythene bags. I don’t know if it was a sarcasm or it was a push to me towards the reality; whatever it was, it really stroked a tender and enthusiastic child’s mind. Now pursuing my under graduate degree in the only Agriculture university in the country, I realize that the sarcasm then had such a close and alarming relationship with agricultural scenario in the country. As a student developing passion in Agriculture, today I realize the relevance of those sentences highlighting the over reliance of an urban livelihood on Agriculture characterized by the foundation of weak research governance. 

Research: Where is it heading??

With Agriculture contributing to 36.8% of GDP composition by sector (CIA World Factbook 2015), the research should play the most important part for surging agriculture in the forward direction. The academics guiding the future leaders is not just functioning well enough to motivate them towards the discovery of farmers based practices. The research findings have limited impact on the subsistence farmers on the hills which is not helped by the infrastructure and technological constraints. The weak government policies have failed to direct the interest of youth towards Agriculture as a profession leading to brain drain which is a most pressing issue in present Nepalese context. The research sector is slow in implementing the resource based technology and the extension channel has failed to form an efficient two-way interlinkage among the Research and the Farmers communities. The action of the major research bodies in the country has failed to ensure the welfare of the rural smallholder farmers. The research bodies should focus in identifying the policy gaps, allocation of the resources and tools according to the needs of agriculture in farmer’s field. There is still much to be done by myself and done on myself from the concerning bodies for youth like me to take pride on being the young agriculturists in the country.

Transforming the Agricultural Research for Global Impact

The Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) on its event (GCARD1) focused on the development needs where agricultural research could play its best role. The research should be transformed according to the land holding and need of the farmer’s field. Such transformation could sustain the rural livelihood and strengthen the linkage between research and farmers group. The GCARD2 brought the idea of reshaping the research together so that it better answers the needs of the resource poor and smallholder farmers and fosters the rapid development. This is particularly important in case of developing countries like Nepal where agriculture holds the major share in the GDP and 25.2% people live behind the poverty line (World bank, 2011). It is important that the needs of the rural smallholder farmers be ensured for food security, uplifting the living standards. The impact assessment of the research in diversity of farming conditions is a must to develop an agriculture system which is centered on smallholder farmers. The third GCARD conference (GCARD3)  brings up the issues on development action to remove hunger and poverty by 2030 through the attainment of sustainable development goals (SDG).

A Journey in the Youth Movement

As an agriculture student, I want to take pride on my profession. As a Youth, I want to represent an idea that reckons the way past the issues surrounding our agriculture system. As a member of YPARD Nepal, I was a part of YPARD Nepal Family Farming Photo Contest organizing team with the aim of raising the profile of Nepalese small holder family farmers. Supporting International Year of Family Farming 2014 theme “FEEDING THE WORLD, CARING THE EARTH”, our contest turned out to be a huge success in representing the voice of family farmers who are the pillars for employment, food security and poverty reduction. I was also a mentee of YPARD Nepal EduMala Mentorship program through which I was able to brush up my communication skills, social media skills, writing skills, grant making procedures and Event management skills. I am also an executive committee member of the youth led group “AgriYouthNepal” (AYN) which is conducting different activities to help promote the use of Information and Communication Technology in Agriculture development. My video on success story of an entrepreneur was screened on “National Youth Forum on Agro-based Entrepreneurship Development” (#NYFAED2015) organized by YPARD Nepal. In addition to this, my experience in making a video blog on Agri-Tourism has helped me refine my technical and social media reporting skills.   

The third GCARD conference presents me with a big opportunity to be a part of discussion with the researchers, donors, stakeholders, policy makers and delegates to reshape the research system in the favor of small holder farmers in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for Agriculture (SDG4Ag) by eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030.Through the third GCARD conference opportunity, I want to represent my farming communities, I want to present their issues for addressing their needs and present them with some solutions and findings through the use of the social media tools. As the small holder farmers hold the major share in economy of Nepal, the research transformation addressing their needs and situation should be a major agenda to be focused on the third GCARD conference.

This blog post is part of the GCARD3 Youth blogpost applications. The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

Picture credit: Madan Poudel