Against a backdrop of increasing disconnection of young people from farming and a world population that is forecast to soar to ten billion by 2050, visionary thinking, a long-term approach, and creativity are urgently needed to develop solutions to enable the next generation of food producers to face global farming challenges. That is why Bayer and two Belgian young farmers associations, Groene Kring and Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs, are inviting young thought leaders from around the world to apply to attend the third Global Youth Agriculture Summit from October 9 to 13, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.
At the summit, about 100 selected young delegates from around the world will share ideas, develop solutions and engage in an open discussion on one of the world’s most challenging questions: How do we sustainably feed a hungry planet?
To apply, young people aged 18 to 25 are asked to submit an essay on the underlying causes of food insecurity and the effect it can have on a growing population. The essay question is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ability to demonstrate original ideas and passion to help shape the future will be the key selection criteria for the Youth Ag-Summit. Essay applications are accepted online until January 13, 2017. Find out more about the application process and the Summit at www.youthagsummit.com.
In 2015, delegates from 33 countries delivered the Canberra Youth Ag-Declaration, an action-oriented plan with recommendations on how youth can have the maximum impact on global food security, which was tabled at the United Nations Committee on World Food Security in Rome afterwards. “Hailing from 33 countries and many different educational backgrounds, all 100 delegates brought together unique and diverse perspectives and introduced ideas towards addressing a global concern. It was amazing to see how we all enthusiastically took up the challenge and formed a common overall vision aimed at feeding a hungry planet”, remembers Samba Ouma Zablon, 2015 alumni delegate from Kenya, who was selected to present the declaration to the UN. In 2017, the movement continues in the European capital.
“We are delighted to co-host the next Youth Ag-Summit in Brussels,” says FJA’s secretary general Guillaume Van Binst. “FJA aims to mobilize stakeholders, organize advocacy, and address both farmers and the general public. And where better to do so than at this prestigious global event?” Groene Kring national chairman Giel Boey agrees. “Brussels, is an ideal location for this seminal gathering of young farmers to help us face up to the future of agriculture and of feeding the world,” he says.
Damien Viollet, Director and Head of Country Group Benelux Bayer CropScience adds: “Belgium is a great place to lead from. It is in the heart of Europe, where governments, multinationals, civil society and the media take a seat at the table to shape the continent and beyond.”
Assessing Young People’s Knowledge About Agriculture
The Summit’s long-term goal is to inspire delegates to not just think, but to act, and action is clearly needed to improve young people’s knowledge about agriculture, since many young people are disconnected from farming and give little thought to where their food comes from. That is why Bayer initiated a major study to assess young people’s agricultural literacy in eleven countries during Summer 2015. The Youth Agriculture Literacy Study revealed that the overwhelming majority of young people had no idea when crops were ripe or were harvested. Less than a quarter of young people around the world were aware that wax is an animal product. In Great Britain alone, almost a quarter correctly answered that wine grapes are ripe in autumn, and every other US respondent didn’t know that spices are dried plants. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that a higher level of education does not mean a higher level of agricultural literacy.
“Bayer is committed to encouraging young people to learn about agriculture and to inspire the next generation of ag visionaries. With initiatives like the 2017 Youth Ag-Summit, agricultural scholarships and experimental learning at our student labs and online, we want to encourage young people to learn more about sustainable agriculture and food supply whereby the vital role of science and innovation is highlighted,” says Bernd Naaf, Head of Business Affairs & Communications and Labor Director at Bayer.