Farming is a lowly job with a poor image and low profile. As young people flock to cities to realize their dreams, what will be the future of agriculture and food industry?
Youth – defined by the United Nations as aged between 15 to 24 – make up 18% of the world’s population. According to the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development, young people who live in the rural areas have been neglected by their governments, communities and families.
The sons and daughters of farmers are often reluctant to go farming as they see it as a back-breaking and dirty job needing little skill. Farming is not seen as profitable, land ownership is not secure, and there is a lack of rural infrastructure and of government incentive policies.
But there is hope… some regional success stories
The Philippines: Making agriculture sustainable and trendy
Twenty four year-old Ana Sibayan is the daughter of a couple in rural Mindoro. She understands how organic food is becoming a hot urban trend is. After attending the training in Diversified Organic Farming Systems (DOFS) by the National Farmer Organization, she convinced her parents to convert their 2,500 sq.
Meter farm into vermi compost, a fishpond and a vegetable garden, and to raise chickens. She was recognized as one of the model farmers during the national celebration of the International Year of Family Farming. She is also promoting the farm model to other young farmers in her neighborhood and beyond.
Japan: Pyramid-shaped capacity building
Six new young organic farmers achieved an average income increase of 207% in 2013 compared to the previous year, thanks to the support and resources provided by farmer-trainers. The new farmers acquired their agricultural skills through training from fellow senior farmers, government extension providers, training courses, books and the Internet. They became independent within a short period, and after that they trained the new young comers.
Taiwan: Government’s priority to make young millionaires
The Government has been influenced by farming organizations and civil society organizations to prioritize investment for family farming and increase the market power of family farmers. As result, it has provided loans with low interest rates and technical support to 268 young farmers to buy facilities, supplies and equipment. Many have become young millionaire farmers and won national competitions in organic rice and organic cherry tomato production.
Cambodia: Women as leaders
As more men migrate to cities, agriculture has become feminized and debates on women farmers’ rights and access to land have begun. Women farmers have been actively involved in advocacy for their rights. In some countries, including Nepal, women farmers’ forums have been forme
Source: GFAR Picture courtesy: Chau Doan (Oxfam America)