How to avoid youth getting involved in agriculture?

‘My name is Sandhya, I am studying Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Suriname. I am currently doing an one year exchange program at Ughent to study agriculture courses of my choice. These fundamental courses are not available in Suriname.’

As I introduced myself at the social media bootcamp preceding the #ICYA2017 conference, I felt how my fellow students and bootcampers looked at me with question marks in their eyes: ‘What do you mean these courses were not available in your country? Is agriculture and food security not a priority in Suriname?’

And off I went on my usual tangent… Explaining, again, how on earth it was possible that in a country putting foodsecurity at the top of its agenda, only a limited choice of agricultural studies were available. And only at a graduate level.

It is an embarassing fact for many reasons:

Agriculture is one of the basic factors contributing to food security. Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 is a real challenge, and one that can only be overcome by developing agriculture. That in turn starts with investing in agricultural knowledge and experience. How is that possible without the right level of agricultural education?

In many developing countries, basic agricultural resources like fresh water, fertile soils and good growing conditions are abundant, at least for some crops. By cutting in agricultural education, limiting the academic choices or levels, we also limit a country’s ability to exploit the agricultural sector as a national economic growth area.

And last but not least: by providing a mediocre agricultural education, we discourage young people to choose agriculture as a profession and we diminish a country’s ability to feed itself. If less youth get involved in agriculture, that poses a risk to continued agricultural development and production, and thereby to food production. No youth, no farmers, no food. It is as simple as that.

Governments of developing countries investing only in production and not in accurate knowledge, are taking a doubtful approach if they have concerns about food security. Agricultural education is vital to successful agricultural development because it enables farmers to make informed choices and be successful in their choice of career.

That’s why the availability of solid agricultural study programmes should form the basis of any country’s food security policy –  including in Suriname!

Blogpost by Sandhya Maniram , #ICYA2017 Social Reporter – sandhya_maniram@hotmail.com

 Picture courtesy P.Casier/CCAFS

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.