Duncan Cheruiyot is one of the YPARD Face to Face program mentee.At the occasion of YPARD 10 years, Duncan tells how he got involved with YPARD, how the mentoring program has shaped up to become a strong YPARD component and how it has benefited him personally.
One random online search in 2014 of agricultural programs involving young people led me to the YPARD website where I immediately registered as a member. Since then, i must admit that YPARD has made a tremendous achievement in facilitating knowledge exchange among young professionals through blog posts, e-discussions and more so their experiences and proficiency in youth and agriculture related activities.
I happen to be one of the many young Africans who have a will, interest and capacity to actively engage in agriculture with the aim of promoting the continents accelerated agricultural development. My vision is to be in a position where I can contribute to improved livelihoods and food security among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through agricultural research.
Regrettably, we are constrained by a myriad of challenges. As a movement by young people for young people, YPARD’s activities are important in unlocking the potential of young people from far and wide, by addressing some of agricultural related challenges.
YPARD’s website is a knowledge bank in itself as far as youth in agriculture is concerned. I have read a lot of success stories from the young people and this has been an eye opener improving my knowledge and renewing my passion and confidence in farming. YPARD has also significantly facilitated access to resources and capacity building opportunities by sharing them on YPARD’s website and through the monthly newsletters.
Personally, I am happy to have been selected as one of the participants at the first YPARD’s 12-month mentoring program in Kenya. Starting with a three-day workshop, I was paired with a mentor, Dr Justus Ochieng, an agricultural economist and an expert in rural livelihoods, climate change as well as youth and agriculture.
With his support, I developed a purpose road map and a developmental journal with academic, professional and personal development goals as well as actions needed to achieve them. To keep the momentum on, we have been meeting for at least two-hour every month either through phone, social media platforms, and occasional face-to-face meetings.
As I join hands with the YPARD community in celebrating the 10th anniversary this year, I also celebrate my progress in achieving my goals. Following my purpose road map and guidance from Justus, I applied to and was awarded a PhD scholarship at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) to contribute towards addressing some of the challenges facing smallholder cereal farming in Africa.
There are millions of young people out here, youth with big dreams but little opportunities and resources to realize these dreams. It is my dream that YPARD will reach out to more young people especially in developing nations, and help them unlock their potential. The future of agriculture is in today’s youth.
Duncan is a mentee in YPARD’s pilot mentoring program. Read more about how mentoring has helped him as a PhD student.
Celebrate YPARD 10 years with us; stay tuned at www.ypard.net/10years