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It is coming up to three years since Green Shoots Foundation held their first teacher training, or Training of Trainers session, in Samrong town, Odar Meanchay Province NW Cambodia. Part of their Agriculture Skills in Public Schools (ASPUS) Project.

I first arrived in Samrong in October 2013. It was small, nondescript and dusty- however; in just a few years it has become one of the most beloved locations on my travel calendar.

Rural youth will nourish Africa (and beyond).

I was mesmerized like never before to see the high attention given to “rural youth and employment”, at #CFS44. Rural youth is going to make a big difference in the ways farming is done in the coming years.

During a side event to CFS44, invited young agricultural leaders shared their common experiences and insights about the SDG challenges they faced. They provided some advice and answers concerning a global phenomenon: the loss of interest of youth in agriculture. 

It was a discussion of success stories from agricultural entrepreneurs, the majority of whom inherited their skills and passion from their family. Can their points of view be relatable and effective enough to motivate an aspiring startup commoner to endeavor into agriculture? They have their stories shared and conversed in hopes of enlightening and giving proper direction to anyone who is willing to invest in agriculture, even though they’re from a family that never had to make their livelihoods on skilled labor. 

The Green Shoots Foundation has been running the Agriculture Skills in Public Schools (ASPUS) program since 2014. Recently, the Foundation organized a range of focus group discussions with secondary school students to evaluate their activities thus far and gain insight into how young people in rural communities feel about pursuing a career in agriculture.

“When exiting one of the focus group discussions, I glanced at Ratana, the Executive Director of Green Shoots Local Partner, and he had a look of amazement on his face,” said Muneezay Jaffery, Green Shoots Foundation Operations Manager. “He was pleasantly surprised by the thoughts shared by the students. For him, it was an affirmation that we are on the right track with future work in this part of Cambodia.”

A young man from rural Africa is sitting among the powerful policymakers, experts from various stakeholder agencies, such as civil society, private sector, governmental agencies and United Nations agencies in Rome at the Committee on World Food Security session 44 (CFS44).

He is holding a pamphlet in his hand, on it written in bold “Rural Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship and Food and Nutrition Security”. He is sitting there his heart pounding hard in his chest because the title of the discussion at the side event is close to his heart. He is consumed by fear of disappointment that the event will be another talk show; he is also full of joy hoping for concrete steps to be taken which will totally transform the African continent. He is wondering if his dream of inclusive agricultural prosperity and transformation will be elevated or once again it will be elusive.

While many youths aspire to reach out to the big world after graduation, Gloria Gusha and Freddy Leonce Kweka have the dream of becoming real farmers in their country. They really inspire and encourage the next generation in implementing sustainable farmers.

During the #CFS 44 side event on “What today’s young agricultural leaders need to meet tomorrow’s SDG challenges”, they unveiled interesting and inspiring stories. They started with sharing their opportunity to enter university, and their initial difficulties and successes. Then also offered encouragement to the next young farmers to set up farming initiatives, which are innovative, viable and sustainable.

“My name is Nikita Bhusal and I am from a small and beautiful Himalayan country, Nepal.

I feel very proud to be one of the beneficiaries of INGENAES in Nepal.” Nikita currently works as the Communications Focal Point with Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) in Nepal after completing her undergraduate studies in Food and Dairy Technology in 2016. 

From epistemology to nanotechnology, we tend to associate intelligence with other fields of life except for the very field that produces the food to sustain it.

With the rising world population, it is highly probable that by 2050, half a portion of your favorite lunch will be more than twice its current price – if not thrice! Most restaurant, fast food or cafeteria owners might like the sound of this, but will there be enough food to meet the rising demand?

New technologies, expanding populations, urbanisation and more varied diets all coalesce to set the stage for opportunities that will enable Africa to take advantage of its youth dividend and meet the aspirations of Agenda 2063, “The Africa We Want”.

The current world agrifood system is inadequate – 815 million people hungry, 2 billion micronutrient deficient, and 700 million obese (108 million children) and yet the system still has high levels of waste and is depleting our natural capital.  We need to find new ways to meet these growing food needs without undermining our futures.  Africa is currently importing much of its food and with the population in Africa expected to double from 1.26 billion in 2017 to 2.5 billion in 2050 (and 4.5 billion in 2100).  This means that the demand for food will more than double as incomes increase and as a result of urbanisation[1].  There are also opportunities for significantly increasing agricultural value added with increased demand for inputs, processing, packaging and transportation and global demand provide greater opportunities for agricultural exports.  There are many challenges but locally relevant new technologies and approaches, including systems for collaborative consumption, give hope.  This is particularly true for Africa where, together with our natural resources and young population, rapidly improving access to energy, emerging technologies, communications and asset sharing there is potential for significant growth.  Africa can fill the gap created by increased demand from rising populations, urbanisation and diversification of diets as incomes rise.  The youth are currently under-employed and it is estimated that 43%–?63% of unpaid family-based jobs are held by youth (Yeboah and Jayne 2017).