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Where there is Youth there is a way: Empowering Youth for ensuring better rural future

Yugal during field tripI perceive participating in Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) in South Africa as a marvelous opportunity to augment my knowledge through the mutual sharing of skills and expertise among the scholars and bright mind scientist. I believe this conference as an adventure to synergize fruitful innovative ideas which will help to nurture the young professional and consequently bring the new insight into sustainable agricultural development.  Furthermore, I also deem GCARD3 as the perfect platform for me to improvise skills and expand horizon in the sector of food and agricultural research and innovation.

I would be highly indebted  if I could get the opportunity to contribute on the theme “Ensuring better rural futures”.  Personally, I believe Agriculture renovation, transformation and commercialization are the 3 pillars through which the agricultural sector can be made much more competitive, productive and attractive for the youth. In addition, it will also help to reduce the food security problem in developing countries and discourage the youth to migrate abroad. Being the student of sustainable nutrition, my major thrust will be on introducing the new nutritional inventions that have the potential to empower women and youth of the rural communities where they spend the majority of their time in drudgery by cutting and collecting the grass or grinding the feedstuffs and preparing the feeds. I am looking forward to share my knowledge on “economically viable” and “simple to use” feeding strategies that could improve livestock productivity, empower women/youth and  reduce the food-feed competition in rural areas resulting in better rural futures. Thanks to Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nation (FAO), Rome from where I gained this expertise while working as an internee from August 2015 to January 2016.

During my internship period at FAO, I got an opportunity to participate in different policy dialogue, round table discussion, weekly meetings and different conference/seminars. This had helped me to boost my English language proficiency significantly. Working at FAO enriched me with all the attributes required for successful professional career in the future. Also, being as an Erasmus Mundus Scholar from Nepal, I got an opportunity to study “Master in Sustainable Nutrition and Feeding” in two reputed universities (Wageningen University, Netherland and Aarhus University, Denmark) of Europe. Studying at the two best universities has not only broadened my knowledge on different issues of Agriculture and Nutrition but has also given me different life skills at the multicultural and diverse environment.

My journey and passion towards social media and reporting had started after graduating from Nepal. In the mean time, i used to post different agricultural vacancies and scholarship opportunities to study abroad on my Facebook and LinkedIn. Still, I used to do the same for initiating the youth activist, as I believe educating and engaging the youth in agriculture can only bring change in the society. Additionally, during my stay in Denmark for the first semester of my master’s study, I got an opportunity to meet with the Danish Representative of YPARD (Majbrit Terkelsen). During informal discussion with her, I came to know about the YPARD and its role in integrating and linking agricultural professional throughout the world for sustainable development. Furthermore, I looked more into the mission and values of YPARD, and it seemed to be aligned with my passions and line of study within the animal science. Consequently, I joined the YPARD community and started sharing the opportunities posted in the YPARD through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and also through my own social networking.

In the developing countries, like Nepal, youth comprises the major population in rural areas. Despite the need of labor in the agricultural sector, they often migrate abroad as they do not found the agriculture profession attractive and prestigious. This trend will continue until the appropriate economic opportunities in the agricultural sector will not be generated. Recently, brain drain is also a common problem encountered in many developing countries. Effective strategies and tactics should be developed to mitigate the problem for attracting and retaining the youth in agricultural sector. Effective mentorship, appropriate incentives and subsidy provision, mechanization, introducing on- and off- farm new interventions are warranted to make farming economically appealing, professionally competitive and intellectually pleasing.

Besides, it is always equally essential to provide youth, particularly women with proper access to land and other essential goods and services that will ease them to engage in agricultural activities efficiently. Likewise, strategies should be developed to strengthen the rural agricultural food chain through the effective linkage between urban and rural market for achieving sustainable market driven rural farming. Similarly, government should take initiatives to provide enough extension services to youth and women farmers in rural areas to enhance agararian prosperity. However, there is no one-size-fit solution and novel techniques tailored towards fostering agricultural production through women and young empowerment should always be considered.

Additionally, there is also a need to develop indicators and measurement mechanisms, including tools for measuring progress made in the implementation, for better understanding of synergies and trade-offs and assessing the impact generated through the implementation of any agricultural intervention set forth to empower youth. Better understanding of synergies and trade-offs would help to enhance the impact of an agricultural intervention or a set of interventions selected for empowering youth. Realistic option always exists, but how this need to be tailored for the particular mix of socio-economic forces prevailing in the society is the greatest challenge. I hope GCARD3 will successfully address this challenge for ensuring a better rural future in which no one leave behind.

Growing up in the remote district of Nepal (Makawanpur), where more than 80% of the people are involved in agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, I was fascinated in agricultural courses since my childhood.  After completion of my bachelor’s study, a desire to learn more and to excel in the field of agricultural sciences directed me towards Europe for furthering my education in Sustainable Nutrition under Erasmus Mundus scholarship. Recently, I am working as a thesis research student at Aarhus University (Denmark) on identifying the sustainable protein sources for human nutrition using the pig as a model. After completion of my study, I shall devote myself on developing the sustainable diet for feeding the growing world population and empowering the youth through sustainable agriculture production, which would help to pave the way for achieving zero hunger.

I believe participating in GCARD3 will add inputs to my existing knowledge and bring a more diversified and challenging set of experiences into my graduate career. Nevertheless, opportunity to participate in the GCARD3 will be one of my new enriching experience and life rewarding achievement. I am looking forward to meet the scholars around the world to share the interests and skills and to generate new ideas for nurturing the youth leadership in agricultural sector.

Always remember- Empowering youth is the key driver for ensuring sustainable rural development and agricultural stewardship.

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