Celebrating the ten years of YPARD: A chronicle of the times to come

03 Jul 2016 by Robin Bourgeois

People in the sea

At the occasion of YPARD 10 years, GFAR Foresight Advisor Robin Bourgeois projects the plausible futures of YPARD as a movement as well as young people involvement in agriculture in the next ten years.

I am finally back in 2016 after having had the privilege of traveling in four different plausible futures, where I met outstanding YPARD members yesterday, the 3 of July 2026. They all became members of YPARD after 2016 so you don’t know them yet. Since 2016, YPARD evolved in four different directions. As they were all celebrating YPARD’s second 10-year anniversary, they told me what happened to YPARD. This blog is a transcription of their interviews. I have taken the liberty to give a short name to their stories.

The Shepherds

“Hi there, back in 2016, best regards and congratulations for what you have achieved! I am a proud member of a network widely seen as a Change Maker in agricultural development worldwide. I personally serve and help other young professionals in the agricultural sector to actively promote and shape agriculture. I have contributed to minimise the young generations’ increasing lack of interest in agriculture and the insufficient participation of young professionals in dialogues addressing critical development issues. 

Today, an e-Working Group called the Virtual Governance Group (ViGor) governs YPARD. Myself  and all its other members represent our respective countries and we are active participants. And in applying full democratic principles, YPARD’s strategic orientations and decisions depend on our individual capacity of influence within ViGor. We are all passionate agricultural leaders, bright individuals, and change makers and that makes our individual influence strong. Our personal leadership, communication, and managerial skills make the difference. It is true that YPARD membership has drastically reduced since 2016, but that was necessary to ensure that only the best and the most active would remain in YPARD and make a difference. And it worked…

We all believe in the culture of agriculture and we work closely with different government(s) when there is a need, and engage with thought leaders on occasional basis. My YPARD activities like those of all my YPARD friends are supported through sources of funding I am able to secure personally. I use all opportunities to engage with many donors and agencies. This gives me a high visibility at national, regional, and international levels. All members of YPARD are driven by exploring potential and innovative activities (programs/projects) in the region through different sources, and information sharing.”

The YPARDians

“Hi there, you would not believe it! We now not only produce sufficient food for all, but we are also moving towards a more sustainable society. Innovations in agro-technology and the involvement of promising young entrepreneurs in the development industries has brought drastic changes. For instance, more responsive policies and support from private sectors sustain the development of a dynamic young generation in rural areas. In every rural community, we have the facilities of ICT; we have the best e-facilities for communicating with each other.  Thus, we can share our knowledge and views. We can access all the information and resources around the world to build our own capacity, act in crisis moment, help other youths and be stronger in playing our role for the society.

Now, what happens is that every youth in rural areas say I am a YPARDian. I am a YPARDian! I don’t have to say anymore that I am the Head of the Trans-National Development Program for the Re-Vitalisation of Rural Areas in the extended Mercosur; I am a YPARDian. It means to all that I am a youth of my country who can help changing the future the way we wish it. My mission is clear because I know what to do and what could happen to me in upcoming years. YPARDians are not only activists but also co-leaders. The youths are community leaders supported by YPARD, and we are broadly accepted in our communities. Our membership to YPARD gives us awareness about our social responsibilities. The YPARD networks relentlessly provide and support us in acquiring skills in playing active social roles. Funding from governments, private organization as well as from donors flows to YPARD and serves to strengthen the skills of the community of YPARDians. We have grown in number, in capacity and in competences. 

Dear Friends from 2016, you will be happy to know that today the most interesting and influential support for YPARD activities are from the well-established companies and stakeholders relying on us for truly making their corporate social responsibilities an element of change for a more sustainable rural world.”

Thinning out

“Hi all, well you know things did not turned exactly as expected. Of course, we are still here. YPARD is still alive. But for how long? Today, YPARD has as many strategies, ideas, and plans for agricultural development worldwide as members of its Steering Committee. Sometimes I get completely lost. We face many constraints for our own development. YPARD leadership lack capacity and coordination and the executive secretariat has disappeared due to lack of resources. There are no new projects, only intentions. 

We lack information and there are no new members. Most of the country representatives gave up. We were enthusiastic still back in 2016 they said, but with agriculture being less and less supported as a driver of change in rural areas, we have lost resources. Donors do not get interested anymore in supporting networks. “They are too many of them, they say, and we don’t see the value for our money”. With no funds for support and programs, and difficult time for jobs in rural areas, YPARD members have ceased their voluntary engagement. We spend our time struggling for decent sources of livelihood. With the growing cost in access to the most sophisticated and effective ICT, our website has gone down and awareness campaigns recessed. Today I wonder who knows us, who knows YPARD anymore? “

YRPA

“Hi folks, greetings from 2026! Here are some news of YRPA (ex YPARD). First, you will be happy to know that we have evolved during the last few years towards a much more business oriented path, thanks to the good work you did all at GCARD3 promoting the YAPs! That was a great move! YRPA is the Young Rural Professionals Alliance; I am currently its CEO. All our members are young entrepreneurs in rural areas. There is no place for lazy people here and if you don’t create a job, you are not in. We changed the obsolescence age of our members to 30 because if YRPA does not make you rich by 30, it will never do it… 

We had to make this bold move because the world has changed and today agriculture is only promoted and supported when needs arises, when food prices surge, when production drops, when food is contaminated or water is scarce. Otherwise, nobody cares. Private stakeholders plays now the most important role and are our main source of funding through loans and joint venture. YRPA gives them a guarantee that they fund the right people. The CEO, Chief Executive Officer, is the only governance structure we have. He is backed up by a team of high-level executives from the B8, the eight companies ruling the agri-food business worldwide. YRPA as a network has a single and very effective strategy: ensuring that only the youths who deserve it create the best jobs and the best opportunities for themselves in agriculture.”

This blogpost by Robin is based on scenarios developed by YPARD-ASIA; see https://blog.gfar. net /2015/09/14/becoming-the-change-they-want-to-see-asia-and-pacific-youth-in-agriculture

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

Photo courtesy: “FreeImages.com/St. Mattox