Youth summit organised to find solutions to agricultural challenges

  • HT Education Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 02, 2015 11:50 IST

Every day the world’s ­population increases by 2,33,000 people, growing from 7.2 billion people today to more than 9 billion by 2050, according to estimates by the United Nations. The ­crucial question is: How can we feed these people? To develop ideas and support global action needed to solve this challenge, Bayer CropScience (a global ­enterprise with core ­competencies in the fields of health care, ­agriculture and high-tech ­materials) in ­collaboration with the ­agricultural youth ­organisation Future Farmers Network is organising a Youth Ag-Summit in Canberra, Australia.

A week-long event, starting from August 24 to August 28, 2015, will witness around 100 young people, aged between 18-25, from 33 countries to ­discuss ­opportunities, ­collaborate and act on solutions for a sustainable agriculture that will help feed a growing world population.

Aatika Singh from New Delhi, Raghav Raghunathan from Dewad, MP and Rohit Fenn from Kottayam, Kerala will represent India at the summit.

“Agriculture in India is ­facing threats from all the sides. Firstly, the richer segment of farmers have embraced ­methods which are unsustainable, while the ­subsistence based poorer ­farmers (which is 80% of India’s farmers) have been ­experiencing climatic shifts, declining productivity and lack of access to good quality seeds,” said Raghunathan.

According to Fenn, such ­summits are the need of the hour. “My steady interest as an ­environmental science ­student has been in ­sustainability at large — from energy ­production and ­transportation to our food systems. From my ­understanding, one of the ­problems with agriculture in India is small farms. This not only lowers the income but makes it difficult to mechanise some farming practices. Ours is still a labour intensive industry, unlike some European ­countries which have less than 2% of their population working in ­agriculture whereas we are over 30%,” he says.

Under the theme ‘Feeding a Hungry Planet, candidates were invited to submit a 1,500 word essay outlining their position and ideas on the ­underlying ­causes of food security and the effect it can have on a ­growing population. The ­ability to ­demonstrate original ideas and passion to help shape the future was the key ­selection criteria for the summit. Essays were ­evaluated by a diverse range of qualified and ­experienced ­industry ­professionals. Showcasing a range of insightful perspectives on food insecurity around the world, candidates discussed topics including food wastage, local produce, ­education and awareness of agricultural practices – all of which will contribute to the conference agenda.

“We nearly received 2,000 essays from 87 countries which signals a strong interest in the issue of feeding a ­hungry ­planet. The quality of the essays was outstanding and the ­challenges and solutions ­identified ­highlight that opportunities like the Youth Ag-Summit ­provide a great platform to continue the discussions,” said Georgie Aley, chair of Future Farmers Network, Australia.

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