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Today, the average age of an American farmer is 58.3 years, an increase of 8.3 years since 1980. The steady rise in average farmer age over the past three decades underscores the need to bring new farmers into the U.S. agricultural sector.

To help attract the next generation of American farmers, Congress created the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), the only federal program that focuses on training the next generation of farmers and ranchers. BFRDP operates as a federal grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that provides funding to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to establish new farmer training programs.

“Young scientists need to take part in policy debates and discussions about agricultural research for development!” So claimed a group of young agriculture professionals in 2005. They wanted to create a global network through which young professionals could be given a voice and contribute towards agricultural development. 10 years later YPARD has become a worldwide collective platform with over 10 000 members from 168 countries.

World Youth Skills DayA message by Richard Thomas, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems

"Today, young people worldwide are celebrating the World Youth Skills Day, which was designated as an international day in 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly in order to raise awareness about the importance of investing in youth skills development.

World Youth Skills Day (15 July) serves as an opportunity to highlight the importance of youth skills development. The UNCCD and its partners recognize and support projects and initiatives that seek to equip young people with tools and resources that will develop their capacity in sustainable land management (SLM). This will enable them to obtain decent work in a sustainable low carbon world and help to address global challenges in particular, poverty eradication and the issue of migration. 

Seeing the opportunities generated from sustainable land management and land restorations activities and the needs to engage young people in green sectors actively, the secretariat organizes an E-Forum Discussion “Empowering Youth through Green Jobs” aiming to promote and engage youth participation in green industries. Among the panelists is Ms. Zrinka Dermit the YPARD Croatia representative who takes on the role of a young expert in mobilizing and empowering youth in agriculture sector.

social media trainingThe local agriculture sector faces many challenges: limited access to information, poor implementation policies and disjointed land administration agencies. Even so, many stakeholders of all kinds face these problems head on, creating solutions that benefit their environment. Problem solving in the agriculture sector should be encouraged! The practice of using one’s limited resources to move forward with projects and enterprises should definitely be propagated, and social media can play a crucial role in this.

Five enterprises have come together to contribute towards moving the agriculture sector forward. They are the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) from Trinidad and Tobago, Tech4agri, W.H.Y Farm, Lukesmith T.V and Ebites. Together with social media expert Peter Casier, we designed a workshop for young professionals, specifically for those who are working in the agriculture sector, to develop their online presence.

We are delighted to welcome two multi-lingual remote YPARD Web4Knowledge interns: Diego Valencia and Husein Shahadu. 

Diego ValenciaDiego Valencia is an Agricultural professional who grew up in a rural community in northern Peru and observed all the problems and challenges small farmers face. Seeing the major share of joys and magical moments farmers had made him long to major his studies in agriculture. Overtime, he has oriented his professional profile towards Small Family Farming and Market Connections.