The future of agriculture depends on attracting young, talented people who are prepared to balance risk and reward in order to deliver the healthy food we need in a way that gives them sufficient return for their labor and capital.
Agriculture, however, is not seen as a profitable career: it’s expensive to finance, the necessary land capital is difficult to access, and young people are excluded from decision making. With an increasing number of youth shunning agriculture, the agricultural sector is losing a generation of potential innovators, inspiring visionaries, and transformational leaders.
But what if we could bridge this gap by mentoring and supporting a new generation of people prepared to proactively contribute to innovative and sustainable agricultural development? What if we could fuse agriculture and entrepreneurship to make young people have a business oriented mindset instead of the subsistence mindset? What if?
These were some of the questions that were in our mind after a survey indicated that 94 percent of YPARD’s 15,000-strong membership wanted such opportunities. After a great diversity of mentoring models were studied in early 2015, YPARD decided that to understand how mentoring can best benefit its diverse global network, a number of different approaches to mentoring should be piloted—namely face to face, virtual, blended, and group/peer mentoring. These programs aim at unlocking the potential of hundreds of budding young agriculturalists by providing opportunities to engage and connecting them to senior agricultural professionals in business, research, extension services, and ICT.
In 2017, we developed a report on one of the first comprehensive explorations of the impact mentoring can have both on young and senior agricultural professionals. As the report demonstrates, young people in agriculture who have received mentoring are likely to see and promote agriculture as a viable career, have increased opportunities to access funding (from seed funds to loans to scholarships), become more business savvy, and are invited to meaningfully participate in important conferences and events. They are seen as role models in their communities, enabling community resilience and better farming practices leading to more secure and diverse food supplies.
Read the full story, originally featured on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, for stories of mentorship and more findings of the report. To view the March issue of YPARD Monthly Newsletter in which this news was featured, click here.
Over the past year, GFAR and YPARD have been collaborating on the Youth Agripreneurs Project (YAP), a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”). The YAP Finalists launched their projects during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016, and were provided with seed funding, matched with mentors, and given coaching and training towards realizing their business plans. Read more on the GFAR Blog: blog.gfar.net/tag/YAP
YPARD and its Regional Coordination Units are Partners in GFAR.
Photo credit: YPARD