A place for young amidst grey haired!

02 Feb 2016 by Balasubramanian Ramani

YPARD Team during New Delhi's GFAR Triennial meeting, in 2006

YPARD Team officially launches YPARD during GFAR Triennal meeting, in New Delhi, 2006

"We must be the change we wish to see".

These are the infamous words of Mahathma Gandhi. The same words can be used to describe the ten year journey for YPARD. Ten years is a long time; how did it all start?

I remember it so well.  It was December 25th 2004. There was a Tsunami destruction in India. I was a young PhD student in Germany then and I could not return to my home institute in India due to the heavy destruction caused to the institute. I stayed back in Germany until the situation calmed down. And in the midst of all this, I got an opportunity to attend the EFARD 2005 conference in Zurich. I had nothing to lose and possibly more to gain at the conference.

It was termed as a scientific conference with request for oral and poster presentations. I did a poster presentation on desalination mechanisms and remediation of affected agricultural lands in India.

Then the conference shock set in. I could hardly associate with the various sessions of the conference which were very future oriented while yet I could hardly find any young people in the rooms. Every corner I turned to, had a silver haired person! It set my mind thinking. How come this can happen where future is being discussed without the current and future generation being represented?

It’s with these flooding questions that I decided to raise the issue during the plenary session of the conference. That was the ignition for the formidable movement that YPARD is today. After that very pertinent point in the plenary, a few young people present came together and supported the view that a youth movement was indeed needed and that they were willing to be part of it.

The irony of it all is that I was sponsored to be part of the conference by the so called grey haired who later became very close friends and supporters of YPARD. 10 years after its official launching, there is no turning back for the idea that YPARD was. Many travels across the world, innumerable support from young people from all regions have turned YPARD into the great Youth in Agriculture Movement that it is globally.

In retrospection, I am grateful for that day when like-minded and radical thinking grey haired experts from all over the world teamed up to support my idea of a youth movement. These people became the members of the first senior advisory group of YPARD, for the advocacy of youth in agriculture belongs to people of all ages.

Long live YPARD. Happy 10 years anniversary!

Watch the very engaging call for youth involvement by Bala Ramani, during the GCARD1, 2010; video interview by Farming First.

Special Thanks to YPARD’s 1st Steering Committee: Andres Tschannen, Balasubramanian Ramani (Coordinator), Enrico Baccioni, Martine Ngobo, Kristine Roing, Oliver Oliveros, Alessandra Giuliani, Markus Buerli, Mariana Wongtchowski and Ariga Grigoryan and to the supporters: Katherina Jenni (SDC), Wim Andriesse, Ann waters-bayer, Christian Hoste, Didier Pillot. Thanks to the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) for their continuing support and the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) who believed in YPARD from the beginning.

Celebrate YPARD 10 years with us; stay tuned at www.ypard.net/10years