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Advancing youth for the truth

 

Blogpost by: Nimeshkumar Jitendra Gorani 

 

This blog post emerged as one of the five winners of the YPARD/AGRINATURA/AgriSciences Platform E-Competition: SHARE YOUR STORY! for the MSc and BSc Category. The competition which was tagged ‘your Research your Story!’ aimed to help students have a better sense of ownership of their research and to communicate the most important parts of their research in a creative easy to read storytelling way.

 

Enjoy reading!

I'd like to introduce myself as Nimeshkumar, a 24-year-old who considers agriculture my culture. Farming is a great occupation that feeds the globe, in my opinion. I've always wanted to give back to my farming community; born and raised in a small farmer family in India. As a result, as an agriculture expert, I believe I should assist the farming community in achieving total sustainable growth, both personally and economically. At the moment, I am pursuing a master's degree in crop sciences at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.

During my bachelor study of agriculture science in India, I attended Bayer Safe Use Ambassador  Program, an excellent initiative to make farmers aware of responsible management of agrochemical throughout its use and beyond. In the program, I understood potential hazards due to the irresponsible use of agrochemicals on farmers' health and soil and water ecosystem. Then, I decided to take care of the farming community and the environment by spreading awareness of Agrochemicals' safe and responsible use. I started giving lectures and demonstrations in farmers meetings. I  explained how injudicious use of pesticide residues could spread as toxins from soil ecosystem to water ecosystem and thereby, how bio-magnification of these chemical residues make delicious and nutritious food products into toxins.  

I have trained more than 1200 farmers of the different geographical areas of western India. My long-term vision behind the mission is to educate and guide food growers about the safe use of agrochemicals and prevent side effects on their health and the surrounding environment. From this  COVID 19 pandemic, everyone knows very well that "ultimate wealth is health. Therefore, I am pretty optimistic that young agriculture changemakers should use this pandemic event as an excellent opportunity to make the farming community aware of the hazardous side effects of these chemicals on their health if they are not being used safely. This will increase the wealth of farmers by making them more health-conscious not only towards their life but also for life on land and life below water.  Eventually, this will result in the conservation of biodiversity in both soil and water ecosystem, which play a significant role in our existence through maintaining the food web, nutrient cycle and many more critical natural events. In the face of increasing global concerns like climate change, increasing population, and decreasing available agriculture resources, the biggest challenge is ensuring food security of around 10 billion people by 2050 with sustainable food production practices. Therefore, it is a time to educate young professionals and motivate them to be responsible and work together for tackling these challenges. 

Recently, in order to learn and develop soft skills and expand my network, I participated in "Youth Ag  Summit", which is a great platform that connects 100 young agricultural changemakers between the ages of 18 and 25 who are passionate to contribute to achieving United Nations Sustainable Development  Goals (UNSDGs). By 2021, I got the privilege of being a part of the global Advocates (Agricultural  Advocates) team out of more than 2000 applicants from 94 countries. I firmly believe that significant opportunities lie in our discussions that can be used to combine and execute unique ideas to magnify their effects synergistically. Therefore, in this summit, I am optimistically confident that the advocates would discuss the ideas individually and adopt them to merge them into their work, ultimately bringing significant transformation into society. 

To conclude, empowering youth in agriculture is of utmost importance to get a sustainable workforce that will fight against agriculture challenges sustainably and ensure global food security for the next generations. However, the bitter truth is that young people are taking less interest in agriculture due to hazardous professions with more dependence on the environment and less income security. However, here, I would like to quote the thought of the father of the Indian green revolution Dr M. S. Swaminathan,  "the future belongs to the world with grains, not guns; guns can be purchased, but grains cannot be  purchased!" Thus, at last but not least, internationally recognised organisations, NGOs, and institutes  have to collaborate and make a super union such as NGIN (NextGen Ag Impact Network) provide  a suitable platform to young ambassadors and groom them to be next generation leaders for the humanity 

and world.

 

Picture credit: Nimeshkumar Jitendra Gorani 



Small-Scale biogas plants in Vietnam: how are affected by policy issues?

 

Blog post by: Sheriff Noi  

 

This blog post emerged as one of the five winners of the YPARD/AGRINATURA/AgriSciences Platform E-Competition: SHARE YOUR STORY! for the MSc and BSc Category. The competition which was tagged ‘your Research your Story!’ aimed to help students have a better sense of ownership of their research and to communicate the most important parts of their research in a creative easy to read storytelling way.

 

Enjoy reading!

 

Feeding the world in 2050 and addressing climate change has been a global concern for the past few decades. Hundreds of countries have signed several treaties and agreements to address these challenges. Being Asia's country with the biggest greenhouse gas emissions, Vietnam is not left out in this race. Thanks to a rapidly growing cattle industry, the country produces more than 80% of its livestock consumption.

 Livestock has been linked to climate change due to abnormal digestion and methane gas production by organic waste. Aside from climate change, the government is falling behind on other sustainable development targets such as access to clean and inexpensive energy. Even though Vietnam is a signatory to many global climate change and sustainability treaties, the government has launched a national policy known as the Vietnam National Biogas Programme (VNBP) to address issues such as energy supply and organic waste management. Thousands of small-scale biogas facilities have been erected around Vietnam as part of the Vietnam National Biogas Program. 

Biogas experts discovered that, despite several renewable energy and climate change policies in Vietnam, the VNBP was the most popular policy among stakeholders and thus was the major driving force for NGOs and international organizations focused on climate change and rural areas development to undertake several biogas projects. This has increased the value chain of biogas in Vietnam while also creating jobs for masons all around the country.

Nonetheless, there are several obstacles to this biogas program, including co-financing, low-tech plants, and a reaction from other energy policy instruments that lower the cost of traditional fuels, making biogas more expensive. Projects and programs focusing on small-scale biogas plants, on the other hand, have been chastised for setting unrealistic goals that are difficult to verify by beneficiaries, resulting in limited involvement in biogas projects and programs.

Finally, as Vietnam's livestock industry transitions from small-scale to large-scale production, the biogas industry is expected to transition from small-scale to industrial production. To prevent the small-scale biogas business in Vietnam from going out as the transition gradually achieves its height, legislative support is needed. Furthermore, because Vietnam's biogas industry is partially market-based, the government must adopt policies to protect small-scale biogas producers against inferior biogas technologies. In addition to realizing the idea of change, small-scale biogas initiatives in Vietnam should encourage recipients to invest in their long-term livelihood rather than rely on it.

Picture credit: Sheriff Noi  

Cashew, Farmers, and the Value  Chain  System- My Research Story thus far

 

Blog post by: GOLD JULIANA OMOLOLA  

 

This blog post emerged as one of the five winners of the YPARD/AGRINATURA/AgriSciences Platform E-Competition: SHARE YOUR STORY! for the MSc and BSc Category. The competition which was tagged ‘your Research your Story!’ aimed to help students have a better sense of ownership of their research and to communicate the most important parts of their research in a creative easy to read storytelling way.

 

Enjoy reading!

 

The journey of my diploma thesis at the Faculty of Agrisciences, Czech university of life sciences began in 2019 after meeting with my supervisor. I was primarily interested in how the value chain system affects most small-scale farmers as we mostly know that the major problem with food sustainability is associated with agricultural marketing. 

The journey continued with further discussions and proposal submission, then it was concluded. I had to go to Kenya, and I had to work with cashew farmers, I was excited and nervous. I have never been to Eastern Arica, and I must travel 15 hours by air to meet my  cashew farmers; I had many questions and many fears (I am not so much of an aeroplane person, I  am) acrophobic) Nevertheless, I was courageous and determined. 

In 2020, the plan to travel was truncated by the pandemic, I was somewhat relieved, but little did I know that It was the beginning of a significant and uncomfortable change in my thesis. I   initially planned to meet the cashew farmers in Kenya's coastal region for some interviews and questionnaire administration to focus on the challenges they encounter concerning their cashew. But this had to change.  

My thesis topic changed, and I had to rely on the data I had no control over now, I had to rely on  Kenya-based field officers to get my answers from the small-scale farmers in Kenya's coastal region. My focus abruptly changed from the problems of the value chain, and I had to focus solely on analyzing the factors that affect the performance of smallholder cashew farmers in coastal Kenya while also benchmarking the performance and constraints of the cashew value chains in Kenya in the context of selected cashew value chains in Africa. 

In this new focus, I was able to: describe the cashew value chain in Kenya compare the basic production characteristics, the value chains, and constraints of Kenya cashew sector with the  Ivory Coast and the united republic of Tanzania using some basic data description from FAOSTAT and assess the socio-demographic factors, farm characteristics and external and institutional factors that affect the productivity of smallholder cashew farmers in Kenya. 

I initially thought it was going to end up being complicated. However, with the data I had, I was still able to make some findings and interesting conclusions highlighted below (Just in case you are interested)-Comparing the performance of Kenya with Ivory Coast and Tanzania in the African context, Ivory coast is the highest performer followed by Tanzania in terms of the total cashew area harvested,  the yield of cashew and export of cashew. Unlike Kenya, the Ivory Coast and  Tanzania governments have established councils responsible for regulating the cashew value chain, hence the reason for the low performance of cashew in Kenya. 

Using the ordinary least square regression, I found out that the respondent's age, educational level, farm size, and price per Kg of cashew have a positive statistical influence on the performance of smallholder cashew farmers in Kenya. However, the distance that farmers spend to the market negatively affects the performance of the smallholder cashew farmers. With these essential conclusions, I came up with some great policy recommendations so as they enhance the performance of cashew in Kenya and in turn, face their significant competitors in the global market while also meeting the great demand for cashew nuts worldwide (This means more cashew for us here in Europe hahaha). 

Even though I could summarize my thesis research in this blog, you should know it took a  great deal of hard work and 60 pages of writing, charts, figures, and tables (No plagiarism, hahaha). There is my research story, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing my final thesis, and I do hope you learn to treat cashew with much respect as I now do. I appreciate one of my friends for his excellent assistance (He knows himself). Whew! 

Picture credit: GOLD JULIANA OMOLOLA