Connecting Youth for Impact

“When we connect more, we can do more.”

That is the message that YPARD (Young Professionals in Agricultural Development) director Yemi Adeyeye wants young people in agriculture to realize. We spoke with him about the organization and the importance of connecting young plant scientists and other agricultural professionals around the world.  

Why is it important to get young people interested in agriculture? 

We need food to continue to exist and with more people in the world, it’s clear that we need more people producing that food and contributing to agriculture in the future. That means preparing young people to make sure there’s a continuous availability of food for the population.

Why aren’t people interested in doing that and what can we do to overcome this challenge?

Changing the perception of agriculture needs to be the first step and then you need to change the perception of policymakers. Policies that influence curriculums at the different levels of education are essential, as are policies that encourage investing in agriculture to allow innovation to flourish like it does in other sectors.

We need teachers and professors who teach their students about agriculture. They need to know about the gaps in the industry and then teach the potential opportunities young people have to get engaged. Education needs to show students that they don’t have to be a primary producer to be an agriculturist, they can also add value as a marketer, or they could be a scientist, or a policymaker. There are different opportunities to be involved and that needs to be clear in order for young people to get engaged.

Is there a common message you share with young people?

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to fellow colleagues or young people, I say that we need to connect with each other more because as a unit, as an aggregate, we can do more. We also need to have a certain common message when we interact with others.

Young people also need to seek out opportunities to network with other professionals, because from a network, you can build a career in agriculture. When you interact with all these institutions, don’t be shy. Open up about what you want in your field and it could happen.

Another thing I would share is that agriculture is interesting and it’s a noble profession. If you think being a policeman is noble, being in agriculture is also noble. If you think being an army soldier is noble, agriculture is noble as well because each career caters to different needs of society and if you’re looking for a noble profession, there are different opportunities within the value chain for you. For example, if you want to be a computer scientist, you can still gear that towards agriculture—you can help compute the programs that are needed to fly drones for pest management and monitoring. Tailor all your interests towards agriculture because it is a noble profession with a lot of options for the future and the present as well.

Young Professionals in Agricultural Development (YPARD), is an organization that serves as a platform to bring together young agriculturalists across the globe. They work on a regional basis as a platform for peer-to-peer interaction and collaboration to foster change for the future.

To bcome a member of YPARD (it’s free!) or learn more about the organization, visit their site here.