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My YPARD internship experience

For the past few months, I joined the YPARD Europe team on an internship experience as in communications and blog writer.

During my Internship, I performed administrative activities which included researching on trending issues related to youth in agriculture and sharing them on the YPARD Europe social media platforms and to its registered members and followers. As an international movement of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development, YPARD presents a great opportunity for networking among its members and followers.

This global platform stimulates the interest to actively participate in one’s area of study, profession, or interest in agriculture. The platform further encourages the sharing of information, views, and ideas, and promotes greater participation of youth in sustainable food systems.

During my internship activities, I managed to vastly improve my understanding and effective handling of international sources of agricultural information and databases. I obtained a clearer understanding of the world geographic regions and their respective contributions to food security. Notably due to the COVID-19 pandemic and through my research I gained a better comprehension of the impact of natural disasters on food security in developing countries. I later expressed my understanding of the impact of COVID-19 in a blog article which I shared on the YPARD website (you can read the blog at https://bit.ly/30ZFdSP).

I benefited immensely from the teamwork among fellow YPARD members. Through consultations with other young professionals, the platform presented me with a wonderful opportunity to address some of the agricultural concepts which for a long time I sought to better understand. The YPARD platform greatly inspired and motivated me to seek and to make a life-long contribution towards sustainable food production systems.

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Combating food insecurity amid COVID-19

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people globally to date. While we are dealing with this unprecedented pandemic, it is alarming that a higher number of people are and will be affected by a lack of food availability. Besides, political instability, natural disasters, unemployment and migration for ages have challenged Nepal to be sustainable and self- sufficient more than ever.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government of Nepal regulated nationwide lockdown starting from 24 March to 21 July 2020. While this step could control the virus transmission, the restricted measures hurdled markets, industries, schools, businesses, offices and transportations. Among all, this containment hits the food-supply chain the hardest. The lockdown measures severely impacted smallholder Nepali farmers as they could not sell their productions to the consumers.

Moreover, it was distressing to see the deliberate dumping of tons of foods like fresh seasonal foods, eggs and gallons of milk due to misleading or lack of information on food safety during COVID-19. The COVID-19 also generated a loss of jobs and lesser income affecting about 30% of households in Nepal. According to the World Food Program Report 2020, 23% of households had inadequate food consumption and 7% of which had poor dietary diversity. 

Here, I summarize my view on some initiatives taken by the Government of Nepal and allied agencies or groups to combat COVID-19 in Nepal. The present situation is very unpredictable; however, we can make the situation better for vulnerable communities if we work together.

Government’s pandemic emergency response

The Government of Nepal could play a maximum role in ensuring safe and sufficient food for everybody in the country. The government should prioritize in making the food system as an “essential service” so that the starvation would not prevail over COVID-19. The current food relief package by Nepal Government is a very good initiative to address the low income and daily waged families. Besides, for the “sustainable food system,” the smart food trade agreements, food system management, proper financial chop offs, emergency funds and relief packages for smallholder farmers and agri/food –businesses industries some major concern. It is also crucial to spread awareness of food safety and nutrition during the pandemic. 

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How do we feed the world sustainably?

According to FAO, by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion 34% higher than today thus. Nearly all this population will occur in developing countries. Therefore, there is a need to find solutions on how much more food can be grown sustainably to carter for the rising population. Researchers are trying to find solutions that can best address ways to ensure healthy diets for a burgeoning world population while improving the planet.  For this to be achieved it requires changes to farming and how we produce our food. However, suggestions made brings with its greater challenges than any of our thoughts- it requires greater sacrifices.

Agriculture already uses almost half of the world forestry. Consumes up to 90 per cent of the water used by humanity and it generates one-quarter of the annual global emissions that lead to global warming. Yet 820 million out of the 7 billion habitants living today are undernourished simply because they cannot afford or do not have access to an adequate diet. Therefore, there is a need to produce more food in a more sustainable way (avoiding deforestation and cut carbon emission for food production among other issues).

Many scientists have calculated that the world population cannot exceed 2 billion for it to be sustainable. But with an alarming rate of increasing world population requires us to manage our resources and food production more wisely as the population increase farming becomes more intensified to carter for the growing population. In this era, however, many considered organic farming as a sustainable way of farming, but it is used only 1 per cent of the world population. Organic farming focuses on sustainability and betterment of the environment. It is proposed as an alternative for conventional agriculture to encounter all the environmental problems that we are facing now. 

In organic farming, there is no need to use fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and any other additives. It requires farmers to use natural ways of farming, this may reduce yields levels, but the farmers can sell the final product on a better price since the consumer believes the product is of good quality instead of that produced from the use of fertilisers. Organic farming cannot only produce quality food but improves the soil structure as the farmer minimize the chemical contents added into the soil. However, it difficult for the farmer to control the mineral content but in the soil, crop rotation can be used to reduce the building up of diseases into the soil and to strengthen the soil composition. For instance, crops such as peas help in nitrogen fixation making the soil more fertile as a result farmers rotate different crops on the same piece of land. Growing multiple crops is efficient and produce more yields than single crop, this system is used in organic farming methods. This system is about environmentally friendly it is chemical free but labour intensive.

Organic farming is not a perfect solution to a sustainable environment it has it on disadvantages it can lead to deforestation because it requires more land to stain the growing population. According to reported research to produce organic milk it requires 80% of land more than conventional farming which the world cannot afford. Some farms require more water than conventional farming which can lead to water scarcity, but overall organic farming is better than conventional farming, but we need to balance both the environment and the requirements of food production.

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Agriculture, youth and ICT

Smallholder farmers have been associated with poor farming practices particularly those in developing countries; they are normally faced with labour-intensive practices and long working hours. This, however, resulted in the agriculture sector to become unattractive to the new generations of farmers. Nevertheless, the situation seems to be changing. ITCs in Africa and Latin America has demonstrated a different perception of farming to Youth in agriculture. With ITCs involvement in agriculture, it provides the farmer with marketing information, production techniques, new technologies as well as financial opportunities. 

ICTs are an aid to more profitable farming. Young farmers find it hard to make ends meet because of poor agricultural practices. ICTs has made it possible for farmers to move from a bake breaking, hardly remunerative, hard labour to a more lucrative and stable income making agriculture business a rewarding business. ICTs can be a useful tool to more profitable farming with this knowledge farmers are encouraged to become a part of this journey. Once farmers acquire the basic skills the youth will begin to discover the potential power of ICTs to their farming activities. Trained and skilled farmers find farming life easier and more attractive. Moreover, farmers can be equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to use ITCs tools or platforms that best suit their required needs. Gradually with time, young farmers will start to apply their skills of ICT to obtain reliable information. This will assist them in negotiations and other related business deals relation with traders, local business, and other important key players in the value chain.

With the important business, digital tools allow them to keep records, identify crops that are on-demand and source information like pesticides to use, what kind of seeds to buy among other things. Young farmers can search for information about market prices, use the internet to find information about agriculture that best suit their current problems. Using videos on the internet be demonstrating tool to show farmers how to tackle a problem practically. The earlier adopters of ICT are the first ones to reap the benefits of ICT in farming. Nevertheless, the return on investment motives them to apply their skills on their own farmers for example by acquiring more land for agriculture in addition to that obtained from their parents as a result the expansion will save as employment opportunities to other youth.

The introduction of ICT makes agriculture life easier and it also saves as proof that agriculture is not for uneducated people but, because of ITCs, educated youths seems to become more attracted to agriculture. To ensure the future viability of agriculture sector, tackle rural poverty and generating employment, it is vital to equip future farmers with the right gear to start to own their own journey in more profitable farming.

Picture credit: IICD.org

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COVID-19 and its impact in the Agricultural sector

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. First reported in mainland China in the city of Wuhan during the last quarter of the year 2019. It affects the respiratory system and thus spreads through the droplet infection. As soon as initial research studies of both the disease and the virus were published, scientists noted the virus’ unique behaviour, genome structure and pathological symptoms. Global health officials quickly realised that they were dealing with a potential pandemic and recommended social distancing and regular washing/disinfection of hands and physical isolation or quarantine as a way of containing the spread of the pandemic. Although reluctant at first, most governments, later on, approved the wearing of face masks. Altogether, these implemented measures proved effective in flattening the disease curve however, they would also change the way of life. The global health and financial sectors bore the brant of COVID 19’s impact however, the Agricultural sector was not left out as the disease threatened lives and livelihoods. FAO states that the disease significantly impacted food production, supply and demand. 

With a global mortality rate averaging 2 %, vital human resources have been and continue lost to the pandemic. From the middle towards the end of March, the global cases and the death toll rose sharply before being contained. As even popular international figures either got infected or succumbed to the disease, it dawned on even to some of the most defiant world leaders that national lockdowns were their best option to arrest the rapid spread of the disease and reorganise structures. However, this came at a cost as fields were left unattended and agricultural produce prone to spoilage, affecting production negatively.

As food pantries became empty for those in lockdown, the demand for produce rose and so did the prices of some commodities. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) attributes the local/regional commodity price increases partly due to logistical challenges in the face of movement restrictions imposed by governments.

It quickly became apparent that some “essential staff” had to leave their homes and make food available to the nations. In countries such as Ireland however, the pandemic further stirred intense political debate on the sources of labour when one farmer chattered a plane of foreign immigrants to pick up fruit and vegetables from the fields.

FAO estimates that in developing countries, the most vulnerable are more likely to be hit the hardest. A significant proportion of people rely on income earned on a daily basis for the acquisition of food, and access to food became a huge challenge in the face of the imposed lockdowns. Globally, open-air agricultural markets that were deemed either unhygienic or potential sources of the spread of COVID 19 were closed down, leading to loss of income.

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Call for applicants - YPARD country representatives for LAC region

YPARD Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is seeking young, innovative and fresh spirited professionals to take on the role of a Country Representatives (CR) and continue its work on enabling and empowering young agricultural leaders shaping sustainable food systems. In this call, we are looking for young people specifically from:

  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Grenada
  • Mexico

Being a CR is a unique opportunity for you to be more active with fellow young professionals in agricultural and related fields in the LAC region as well as with the global YPARD network.

We would also like to explore ways to start a new YPARD chapter in your country. Here are some initial insights on how one becomes more active with YPARD. This would be a great opportunity for you to become active with fellow young agricultural professionals in your country as well as with the global YPARD network.

As a country representative, you will have the chance to:

  • To lead initiatives that enable you to work to improve young people's perception of agriculture in your country  
  • Help young professionals to reach their full potential in agricultural development by being the voice of YPARD and represent the members of the community in your country.
  • Have a useful tool for your future aspirations in the working field by being the YPARD country representative
  • Have the opportunity to travel abroad e.g. GCARD3 in South Africa – many young professionals from YPARD attended with the support of GFAR (See here for more information)
  • Have a great asset for your CV as YPARD is supported by GFAR and FAO and many other partner organizations.
  • Have the chance to connect/ get to know other YPARD members - not just In the LAC level but also globally.                                                                                                                
  • Contribute to agricultural development in Latin America and the Caribbean region
  • Have a link with YPARD partners (see list of partners HERE)

This is a voluntary position that will not interfere with your day-to-day activities. You will have full support from the YPARD Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) team.

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COVID-19 and agriculture in Nepal

Farming in Nepal has been severely affected by the COVID-19 transmission, enforced lockdown and mandatory physical distancing. Farmers feel devastated as they are unable to harvest and market their products, which have led to a movement to dump milk, vegetables, fruits, chickens, and egg on the road.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development of Nepal has established a digital market and declared a 25 per cent subsidy on the transport of agricultural products, considering the COVID 2019 crisis. Similarly, an initiative of the “agriculture ambulance” brought in by Province-5 of Nepal for transportation and marketing of agricultural products can prove to be a real life-saver in this pandemic situation. Furthermore, the Government of Nepal has envisioned the preparedness and response plans to COVID-19 for the Fiscal Year 2020/2021.

Recently, the Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU), Chitwan, Nepal, has prepared guidelines for online teaching and declared to adopt such practices. It may be challenging in the Nepalese context, but students, faculties, and staff have expressed their commitment to continue teaching and learning amidst the obstacles.

Moreover, to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, AFU has been producing Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) based hand sanitizer and distributed it to farmers and traders of university neighbouring villages. To meet the challenge of short supply during the lockdown period, the AFU Farm Directorate, with the support of the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat Project funded by the Gates Foundation, is collecting improved seed of wheat and paddy, and selling them at a reasonable price to seed entrepreneurs.
The youth’ perspective

An assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on farming is urgently needed in Nepal to explain potential food crisis and propose solutions. Furthermore, the government should promote the use of local and improved seeds. If provinces can ensure marketing by investing in farmers’ seed production, the current seed dependency on imports would be reduced. 

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Showcasing Innovative African And Asian Talents: Promoting Nutritious Food Initiatives

The 2020 Global SUN Pitch Competition will take place as a virtual event on 30th July 2020. The final will showcase 21 African and Asian entrepreneurs seeking to scale innovative approaches to bring improved nutrition to low-income consumers in emerging markets. Finalists have been selected through a series of 24 National SUN Pitch Competitions over the last year.

The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Pitch Competition, organised by the SUN Business Network (SBN), harnesses innovative solutions for improved nutrition by connecting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets with technical assistance and investment opportunities.

In Africa and Asia, SMEs provide the majority of food consumed and have the potential to increase access to safe, nutritious foods if they can grow their businesses through finance and technical assistance. The SUN Pitch Competition aims to uncover smart investment opportunities to support SMEs to grow their businesses and scale their impact on nutrition in their local communities.

With the current COVID-19 crisis, health and nutrition are suffering from multiple shocks. This is particularly evident for women, adolescent girls, children, older people and marginalised groups in the poorest countries of the world. At the same time, undernutrition may exacerbate the severity of COVID-19 contracted cases, with those undernourished more likely to die from infectious diseases. Nutrition innovations are therefore more critical than ever before, and access to safe and nutritious food must be safeguarded.

Policymakers, development partners, donors, entrepreneurs and investors are therefore invited to come together to explore partnerships around nutrition during this unique virtual SUN Pitch Competition event. The entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to access business finance and enter new markets, and the investors are invited to discuss collaborations and investments with the finalists in more detail in a ‘Nutrition Dealroom’. These Dealroom sessions will also connect the finalists with mentors and other ecosystem partners to match the investment-ready entrepreneurs with corporates to provide finance, mentorship and market-entry solutions to strengthen and scale up the pitch competition enterprises.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on SDG 2: New Narrative for Agriculture

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were formulated to produce a set of universal goals that meets the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. The SDGs were embedded as 17 themes to serve as a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all individuals globally enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. One of such Global Goals enacted by the United Nations General Assembly was SDG 2 – Ensuring Zero Hunger.

Statistics estimated that over 819 million people in the world are suffering from malnutrition and hunger and some other 11 million individuals in the world are suffering from acute food insecurity (FAO Statistics, 2019) and thus, the need for concerted efforts to combat the issue of food insecurity as a global challenge; ditto, creating the SDG 2- Zero Hunger. The SDG 2 was formulated to ensure food security and build resilience in rural areas; reduce the rate of hunger, malnutrition ravaging various individuals and communities across the globe most especially Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia were incidents of food insecurity were at its peak (Global Food Security Index, 2019).

Like a thief at night, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged economies, disrupted agricultural production and food supply chain, limited access to food markets, caused a hike in food prices, resulted in loss of income and sources of livelihood and it is further contributing to hunger and malnutrition; causing a growing concern for various stakeholders and the global community. The global community is at the verge of suffering from a crisis within a crisis and if solutions to mitigate the impeding effects of this pandemic is not found, this pandemic could lead to 'famines of biblical proportions' as projected by David Beasley, United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director.

Now is the time to concert our efforts towards salvaging our food and agricultural systems from further shocks and contingencies by changing the narrative of agriculture. A new narrative of agriculture practice spurred by 7 I’s - Investments, Incentives, Inclusion, Indigenous Knowledge, Institutions, Innovation and Information will ensure a transition to a Sustainable Agricultural Production so as to achieve the Zero Hunger Goal of the United Nations.

The need for investments in the agricultural sector cannot be overemphasized, when I mean investments, I do not mean the meagre and paltry budgetary allocation for agriculture proposed by the Government. Rather, investments in agriculture through Public-Private Partnership towards concerting efforts and pooling resources towards productivity in the agricultural sector and also, investing in the lives of our rural people. Statistics shows that 70% of our agricultural production are facilitated by the rural people, implying that a substantial amount of our agricultural production is hinged on the productivity of the rural people. Massive investments in the rural people will result in substantial return in the agricultural productivity of the rural people. 

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Tomato production in times of scarcity

Producing tomatoes was not always an easy activity, taking into account his greater research in times of very cold weather, or with air conditioning or an increase in the price of tomatoes per kg in the consumer market. To be able to maximize production per plant at this time, he thought about making tutoring with cuttings, this practice is already known worldwide and was less applied in tomato production in Mozambique.

Tomato blossoms and bears fruit under very variable climatic conditions. A plant can grow in tropical, subtropical and temperate climates, or that can be grown in different regions of the world

To obtain good benefits and economic profitability with this species, it is necessary that the factors inherent to nutrition, the correct use of water, genetics and sanity, be included in adequate levels. The period required for fruit maturation depends on the cultivar, the region's climate, the nutritional status and the amount of water available to the plants. When subjected to stress, how plants can shorten the cycle. Most varieties grown in Mozambique are harvested with approximately 100 to 120 after germination

 

According to the tomato production factors, it is possible to realize that in order to obtain a good quality product, it is necessary to have an effective planning to control the production factors. Thus, in order to have good competition, the producer must obtain greater increase, lower production costs and greater efficiency in the production process.

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Building Back Better: Understanding the three R’s of Bushfires

The existing climate aberrations and shift in land use patterns have exacerbated numerous climate perils such as drought, heatwaves, floods, and wildfires. It is fair enough to say that these actions have brought nature to its tipping point and thus placing the species diversity at stake. Bushfires have made it to the headlines several times in recent years. The series of devastating bushfire events in Australia, California, and the Amazon Rainforest have made us realize how nature reciprocates when human administered actions rule the earth. The UN reports indicate that between 2005 and 2015, nearly 700,000 people have lost their lives to disasters worldwide.  

 

Bushfires are naturally occurring flames that burn through forests, bushland, and scrubland. The regions that are prone to bushfires hold a larger share of vegetation that is combustible. For instance, natural oils present in Eucalyptus support combustibility. Therefore, having a deeper understanding of the landscape and topography is essential to formulate a sound resilience plan.  

 

Now let us look into the three R's of bushfire - Relief, Recovery, and Resilience  

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Green Jobs: Call for success stories

Dear colleagues, 

YPARD is collaborating with the Expertise France’s Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework EU Support and FAO on the development of a policy paper on driving transformative changes through decent and green job creation for youth, with a special focus on agri-food systems. 

We want to showcase some successful ongoing activities of youths/young professionals that illustrate opportunities for transformative changes through engagements in agriculture-related green jobs. 

What is a Green Job?

Work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. It includes jobs that “reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high-efficiency strategies; decarbonize the economy, and minimize or altogether avoid the generation of all forms of waste and pollution." (UNEP, 2008)

Examples of agriculture-related Green Jobs

  • Environmentally friendly food production: organic farming, composting through reusing residues (e.g. crop, livestock and fish waste, and wood residues), beekeeping, water conservation, agro-processing and agroforestry
  • Energy production from renewable sources: production of biogas from animal manure or crop residues
  • Landscape maintenance and biodiversity protection: environmental conservation/ protection and sustainable land management
  • Climate change and environmental research, development and policymaking
  • Environmentally friendly activities in the countryside, eco-/agro- and sustainable tourism, including on-the-farm agro-processing to be served to clients

If you are involved in jobs/initiatives that alludes to the definition and/or examples above and interested in increasing the visibility of your work, please follow these instructions:

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Agriculture and food production of Nepal under COVID-19

Nepal is a country where the economy is dominated by agriculture. Out of its total population, around 60% are engaged in agriculture (NPC, 2017). Farming in Nepal is mostly subsistence where agricultural crops and livestock are integrated. Even though both organic and inorganic practices of farming are widely followed in Nepal, inorganic farming is predominant.

The Government of Nepal has enforced lockdown since the last week of March 2020 to prevent spreading of the disease due to the current situation of the COVID-19. The pandemic has led to a drastic change in the economy of the country, affecting the lifestyle of people, health, education, markets, industries and tourism sector. 

The agriculture sector has faced the utmost effect with the unavailability of agricultural inputs like seed, fertilizers, pesticides, machineries, agricultural tools and lack of adequate labour management. Similarly, due to disturbance in the transportation system, harvested food products in some rural areas are going to waste due to a shortage of proper market facilities.

Nepal mainly depends upon imports from foreign countries to meet the demands of agricultural products. For instance, import of cereals stood at 13,343 tons in the first week of lockdown which has nearly doubled to 24,365 tons as of the eighth week of the lockdown. For the reduction of trade deficit situation, Nepal can primarily focus on the agriculture sector by moving towards food self-sufficiency which is defined as the extent to which a country can satisfy its own food needs from its domestic production without buying or importing.

Food self-sufficiency can be achieved from different level including individual level to the local level and then to the national level. Farmers from an individual level can make remarkable contributions to maintain the food self-sufficiency by adopting innovative techniques to increase production. Farmers can adopt climate-resilient agriculture, mechanized agriculture, permaculture, system of rice intensification (SRI) for increasing yield of rice production with fewer inputs, rainwater harvest and smart method of irrigation like drip irrigation in places where there is a scarcity of water. Bio-intensive agriculture can be followed which is an organic agricultural system that focuses on achieving maximum yield while increasing biodiversity and maintaining the fertility of the soil.

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  • Nepal
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Covid-19: A gamechanger in attracting youth to agribusiness

From farm to fork, the global health crisis triggered by Covid-19 is a serious threat to our food systems. Notwithstanding, new opportunities are emerging for young people to participate more actively in agricultural value chains. For the “youngest” continent, projected to have 50% of the population aged under 25 years by 2050, seizing this opportunity is key to ensuring that its young people have economic opportunities backed by resources, investment, and an enabling environment.

In the following interview, Samson Ogbole, a farmer and agribusiness expert, reflects on how young people can identify opportunities in the agribusiness sector both during and post Covid-19.

As the founder of Soilless Farm Lab, can you briefly tell us about this enterprise and its activities?

Soilless Farm Lab is the smart way to farm. Today, we are aware that the basic challenge of agriculture is on how to maximize food production without harming the environment, while also reducing post-harvest losses. As a leading technology enabler for agriculture, we are addressing these challenges by developing farming tools and implementing smart and sustainable agricultural practices. We train and establish “soilless” farms as a means to create enablers of agricultural production such as tissue culture for clean seeds, soilless farming for food production all year round, artificial intelligence (AI) for ease of operations, and blockchain for tracking and increasing transparency for food production.

Are there any impacts of Covid-19 on your agribusiness ventures?

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  • Nigeria
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RENEWABLE ENERGY IN NIGERIA

There is no doubt to the fact that renewable energy resource remains fundamental to human activities. According to (Glossary of Environmental Statistics, 2007) renewable energy resources are described as those natural resources that, after exploitation, can return to their previous stock levels by natural processes of growth or replenishment. Renewable resource like solar energy, hydro-power, wind power and biomass from agricultural products are all important aspect of sustainability that can replenish and overcome usage and consumption through either biological reproduction or natural occurring processes.

In my home country Nigeria, the drive towards a sustainable renewable energy source could be tagged to still be in its nascent stage as the only source of renewable energy in the country is mainly hydro-power and biomass. Wind and solar energy have only been deployed in minimal amount.

Overtime, environmentalists, activists as well as energy and environmental enthusiasts have identified major renewable energy sources available across the country. In the Northern part of Nigeria like as Kano, Sokoto and Borno states, solar and wind energy have been identified as being a potential for generating power due to the high temperatures from daily insolation and clear skies associated with the region. In the Southern part of the country such as delta, Lagos and Rivers states, ocean energy and wind power have been tagged as an energy potential due to the coastal uniqueness of the southern part of the country which bounds the Atlantic Ocean.

Meanwhile, with such untapped wealth of renewable resource at our disposal here in Nigeria, not much has been done to exploit these God’s given resources. The government of Nigeria has not been driven so far to enact and back up policies that can develop and manage these free resources sustainably. Unfortunately, factors ranging from huge expenditure required, lack of technical competence, corruption and lack of the willpower from respective stakeholders and policy makers have been pointed as being the major cause of setback.

Also, the policy framework on renewable resource as established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2003, which is well outlined, has not been able to achieve most of its objectives. The fact that only about 40% of the country’s over 140 million inhabitants have access to electricity (Okafor, et.al, 2010) is enough to propel the policy makers into striving to compliment the dwindling power problem with the non renewable resource which is in abundant from the Northern desert to the Southern coastlands and from the Western uplands to the Eastern scarplands.

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Welcoming YPARD Trinidad and Tobago country representative: Enricka Julien

We are delighted to welcome the new YPARD Trinidad and Tobago country representative, Enricka Julien.

Enricka is a graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Agribusiness, with minors in Gender and Development Studies, Communication and Extension from University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad. 

Enricka is an agricultural professional with over six years of experience working across various departments within the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries in Trinidad and Tobago. During her tenure at the Ministry, she worked in the production and marketing of livestock and livestock products, extension training and information services, the administration and management of agricultural state lands, and facilities management. This experience helped her to develop her skills further, broaden her knowledge and expand her portfolio of professional experience in the agricultural industry. 

Throughout the years she has worked voluntarily with several local and international non-profit organizations dedicated to improving agriculture development, food security and climate change. She has participated in communications projects geared toward engaging youth in agriculture and development.  In 2015, she contributed to the mobilization of thousands of young people online and onsite as the Co-Lead of the Marketing Team for the Youth in Landscapes (YIL) Initiative activities at the Global Landscape Forum

Enricka now works as a Facilities and Administrative Officer in the field of sports facilities and event management. Still, she continues to volunteer and support projects related to sustainable land management and agriculture development. 

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Why are women so important to agriculture?

Education is the key to a successful society; If you educate a woman, you have an educated society.

Imagine a planet where farmers, particularly the rural African women, learn, know how to and produce highly nutritious food. This would considerably bring positive impacts on health, nutrition and additionally increase farmer’s income. Women play a significant role in society, in food security; they are the backbone of the rural economy, especially in the developing world.

I believe it is time to act on empowering the society especially women rather than to spend more time on policymaking while millions of people go to bed hungry. There is the need to go beyond policy initiates and place more focus on the ground action. FAO initiative action promotes gender equality as a fundamental human right and an essential means of achieving its development goals of sustainable rural development, food security and nutrition. FAO’s objective is to achieve equality between women and men in access to resources, services, production and in decision-making, to promote sustainable agricultural production, food security and rural development.

According to President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) during the opening plenary of the Committee on World Security (CFS); To ensure nutritious food accessible to everyone and transform rural areas to places where there is hope for the future. Empowering and investing in rural women was to be considered a way to go. Over the years, women have proved to be productive in rural livelihoods. In most developing countries, women are responsible for nutrition and food security at the household level. Yet, they are not well recognised instead they hold the smallest percentage of land.

On average, about 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries are women, according to research by the FAO Gender Department. Whilst 79% of these women largely depend on agriculture as their primary source of income. Most households are directed by women yet their access to productive resources is limited. On the other hand, the effects of climate change make all the customary responsibilities of the women uncertain and risky, yet they have no voice in decision making processes on policies regarding the environment.

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  • Czech Republic
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Kenyan smallholder farmers unbowed to COVID-19

The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to wreak havoc all over the world forcing governments to impose restrictions and quarantine to contain the spread to "flatten the curve". And these measures have consequently crippled economies and supply chains worldwide. Producers are now vulnerable to economic shocks, volatile commodity prices and high labour costs that threaten to destroy their livelihood.

In Kenya, smallholder farmers are facing difficulties in obtaining inputs like seeds, fertilizers and farm chemicals. Transportation of fresh produce has become very expensive making it difficult for farmers to bring their produce to the markets- some of which are closed.

Triple Threat

Smallholder farmers are already vulnerable to unpredictable weather patterns, volatile prices and health-related disruptions to their activities are a major concern. This implies a rise in health care expenditure to prevent farmworkers from contracting the virus. It also includes the purchase of PPEs to safeguard them.

Coping Strategies

To mitigate the effects of the pandemic and adapt to the looming future challenges, Kenyan farmers have resorted to diversifying their crop production, finding new markets, investing in value addition and forging alliances that would reduce the cost of production and ensure that they realize a modest profit.

A good working relationship between the farmers and agronomic services company- Syngenta birthed the establishment of "farmers hubs" in Nakuru and Nyandarua Counties. This is an out of the box solution that is proving to be beneficial to smallholder farming communities around this agriculturally rich region of Kenya. Courtesy of Syngenta Foundation, the farmers' hub concept entails offering normal agronomic services like advisories, market information and extension services in addition to the COVID-19 Sensitization Program for farmers and giving tips on how to stay safe.

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  • Kenya
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E-forum: Possible YouthInAg dynamics post COVID-19

On 21st of May 2020, YPARD Philippines hosted an E-Forum with the same title promoted on social media with the hashtag - #YouthInAgPostCOVID.

This was organized in partnership with Dream Agritech Consultancy Services, and co-presented by YPARD Global and WhyFarm. The YPARD Steering Committee Chair, Marina Cherbonnier and the YPARD Director, Yemi Adeyeye alongside Alpha Sennon of WhyFarm served as guest speakers. Jim Cano, YPARD Philippines Country Representative, served as the web discussion’s moderator along with Dakila Olfindo of Dream Agritech.

The web discussion aimed to map out the possible dynamics of youth-in-agriculture post-COVID-19 given the trends and current status. To do so, four questions were tackled during the e-forum: 

  1. How has COVID-19 affected you, young people in your community or the young people in your network in terms of food access, availability, and affordability? 
  2. Is there any noticeable spark of interest among your communities, especially young people, towards agriculture during the pandemic?
  3. How do you think the dynamics of engaging youth in agriculture and for agriculture will look like after COVID-19 in these three aspects: business, policy, academia/research/extension?
  4. What can youth-in-agriculture organizations do post COVID-19 to continue to boost youth engagement in and for agriculture?

These questions along with questions from the comment threads of both Facebook and YouTube were actively tackled by the speakers. Make sure to check the recording of the e-forum.

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  • Philippines
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Agriculture and COVID-19: problems and opportunities

Agriculture is the backbone of the Nepals’ economy. 

About 60.4% of the total population of Nepal is dependent on agriculture contributing to 31.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the agricultural sector is affected by various factors of low productivity, climate change, and lack of inputs and mechanization. 

In the current situational crisis of worldwide lockdown due to COVID-19, Nepal government has announced an enforced lockdown since 24th March 2020. This has aroused a worse situation in Nepal decreasing the country's GDP. The COVID-19 has affected the food supply chains and markets of Nepal. This has led to a direct effect on peoples’ day to day activities with disruption of consumption of nutritious and sufficient food. 

People are compelled to buy vegetables in higher amounts. The income of the households who depend on daily wage has been decreased which tends to increase food insecurity of individuals. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant effects on both production of agricultural products and its consumption due to shortage of agri-inputs. In addition, the lack of labour in the lockdown has affected the harvest of standing crops, sowing and transplanting of paddy that can reduce the products. Commercial farmers are also facing challenges to sell their products in the market and agricultural products are being wasted/destroyed and rotten on the field. 

COVID-19 pandemic has caused an irreparable loss of mankind all over the world. In the meantime, the pandemic has affected different sectors from health, education, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure etc. The poor and daily waged people are mostly affected and vulnerable in Nepal. The agricultural product industries are also affected as they are badly hampered by the availability of the labour who works on a daily basis. In such a crisis, it is utmost that an individual develops a resilient power to adapt to the changing context and conserve the existing food system during prolonged lockdown and disruptions of the food system. 

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  • Nepal
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