Don’t let my sunflower die!

Do you remember sowing any plant during the time in kindergarten?

I do!

We sowed sunflower seeds in a pot. It grew slowly. I was eagerly waiting for the next day so that I could see a difference from the previous day. I loved my sunflower. But then I had to go on holiday and I asked someone to water my plant until I returned. Unfortunately, my plant didn’t survive that summer. I still remember how sad I was, when I saw the pot with a wilted plant.

I wonder if this is how a farmer feels when his crops do not grow? Think about it for a second. What would happen if crops stop growing every year due to the changing climate and environment? What if nobody would produce food anymore as a result?

Well, then the future doesn’t look pretty!

Isn’t it our ethical duty to teach people, especially the next generation, about agricultural production systems and the food we get served on our plate? Isn’t it important to increase the awareness of importance of farming to everyone so that we might be able to produce food in the future? These were the questions that popped up in our minds during the ICYA conference (International Conference for Youth in Agriculture).

During an afternoon session, one of my colleagues said: Food is medicine. So isn’t it important that people, youth in particular, know how to think critically about the production process of the food they eat, and that they know whether or not they can trust their food?

We thought of several different potential approaches to increase awareness of food production issues. One of the many suggestions was to engage in campaigns to decrease the distance between consumer and farmer. That might make the consumer more keenly aware and conscious of the problems of a farmer.

Another suggestion was to arrange competitions that attract the next generation and enhance critical thinking and interests of youth with regards to agriculture.

I think that telling inspiring stories on agriculture as good night stories or sharing the farm life experience of our grandparents with children also can be a good contribution because such memories will stay with children throughout their lives and make them think more critically about the future.  At least I grew up to listening to how my widowed strong grandmother brought up six children while managing her field. One reason why I started to get interested in agriculture, was those inspiring stories about my grandmother and her experiences with my mother in the fields.

Educating society about the agriculture and its advantages is crucial to secure future food production.  The way to increase awareness might not be straight forward, but it is also not impossible. Otherwise agriculture, and ethical food production will die, like my beautiful sunflower did.

Blogpost by Vanathy Erambamoorty, #ICYA2017 Social Reporter –vanathye@student.ethz.ch

This post is part of the live coverage during the #ICYA2017 – The International Conference for Youth in Agriculture, organised by IAAS (The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences).  

This post is written by one of our social reporters, as part of their training on social reporting, and represents the author’s views only.

The #ICYA2017 social reporting project is supported by GFAR, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research.