Fasten Your Seatbelts! The GCARD3 Youth Train is Moving!!

Latoya, Value Chain Manager (with management responsibility for an Agriculture Food Park) to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica Agricultural Competitiveness Programme in Kingston, JamaicaHear ye! Hear ye! The youth in agriculture train is moving and we shall not be left behind!

Youth are becoming more and more aware of the need for dialogue on agriculture and global development and we are excited to join in these conversations.

The Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) is being held from 05-08 April 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and I am desirous of being selected as a member of the Youth Delegation. The theme for this year’s event is: “No One Left Behind: Agri-food Innovation and Research for a Sustainable World”. So, how can the youth contribute to a sustainable world?

‘Food for All’- How Can We Minimize Our Constraints???

Access to clean and nutritious foods should never be a privilege, it must be a right. There is a global movement in the direction of ‘Food for All’ with policy makers expressing their commitment towards food security and food sovereignty. However, there are a number of constraints to achieving these goals.

One major constraint is the fact that the global farming population is aging. In addition, urban and sub-urban youth are of the mind-set that a career in the agri-sector involves long hours and tedious tasks. Parents in rural areas use farming to educate their children who eventually migrate to urban areas, not continuing the legacy. Overall, young people are also shying away from areas of advanced studies in natural sciences and agri-business and are focusing on more general areas such as Management Studies.

To alleviate this constraint on a global scale, youth must be exposed to exciting innovations in agricultural production, agribusiness and agri-entrepreneurship, ICT use in agriculture, biotechnology, engineering, climate change mitigation, plant health, animal health, and food safety systems. Exposure will definitely prove worthwhile as it will attract passionate and innovative scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

The Role of GCARD3 i­n Supporting Youth in Agriculture Development

GCARD3 is a very important forum as it encourages discussion among conference participants, print media and social media audiences across the world on the latest contributions towards agricultural development and sustainability under its 5 key thematic areas. The decision to include youth in these discussions is extremely timely and aligns with sustainable global development. Furthermore, as with similar conferences of this nature, GCARD3 will allow for extensive interactions and networking which is critical for the development of the youth leaders of tomorrow.

Agribusiness Development, My Passion

As a young woman and a member of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), I am very passionate about capacity building of youth in agriculture. Currently, I work alongside farmers in an Agricultural Food Park to develop and manage agribusinesses to support their effective integration into value chains.  Youth farmers tend to adapt to changes more successfully and adopt new technologies at an even faster pace when compared with their older counterparts. This has resulted in increased production from approximately 10 acres to 50 acres of vegetable production in the third year, and income diversification.

I am a small-scale farmer engaged in the cultivation of vegetable crops. Presently, I am in the final stages of developing a business plan to start a greenhouse plant nursery, and to expand in-field crop production. I constantly share my agriculture-related experiences (using short videos and photos) to my social media profiles- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Flickr. In November 2015, I was a member of an exciting social reporting team for the Caribbean-Pacific Agribusiness Forum in Bridgetown, Barbados which was organised by The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA).

Benefits of Participating in the GCARD Global Event

GCARD3 shall provide me with international exposure which will enhance my technical expertise to contribute to the improved livelihoods of value chain actors in Jamaica and in the Caribbean Region. It will also improve my skills as a farmer-entrepreneur through exposure to the latest in research and development, and best practices for my agricultural enterprise. I am specifically interested in sustaining the business of farming and attracting investment because these Sustainable Development Goals are matched to my academic and work experience pursuits.

Along with event management experience and the conducting and/or facilitation of over 20 meetings and capacity building sessions for agricultural stakeholders, I do have good verbal presentation skills, facilitation, and reporting skills. Therefore, I am willing to operate in any capacity should I be granted this invaluable opportunity.

I am a 30 year old citizen of Trinidad and Tobago; however, I reside in Kingston, Jamaica. I hold a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Entrepreneurship and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agribusiness from the University of the West Indies (Jamaica and Trinidad campuses, respectively). I am employed as a Value Chain Manager (with management responsibility for an Agriculture Food Park) to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica Agricultural Competitiveness Programme in Kingston, Jamaica.

See you in Johannesburg, South Africa!

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

Photo credit: Latoya F. Lewis