On February 8th to 9th, twenty active young farmers from all over the world gathered in Rome at WFO premises for the final session of the first edition of the Gymnasium capacity building program.

Started in 2017, the Gymnasium was aimed at training young farmers on agriculture policy negotiations, modern farming, advocacy, to prepare them to become future leaders in the agricultural sector.

During the last weekend, the group worked with an expert in developing their leadership skills, personal communications, team working and active listening, but above all the students presented their final works to a special evaluation committee.

Led by the WFO President, Theo de Jager, the Committee included the members of the WFO Board of Directors, Dave Velde, Vice President and Representative for the North-American Constituency; Arnold Puech D’Alissac, Treasurer and Representative for the European Constituency;  Abdelmajid Ezzar, Representative for the African Constituency and Sok Sotha, Representative for the Asian Constituency.

Climate change, women empowerment and youth involvement in agriculture, as well as food security, turned out to be the most interesting current global farming issues in the discussion.

At the end of the inspiring and forward-looking debate, these brilliant young minds in world agriculture received a diploma for having successfully completed their training path, during an amusing and touching ceremony.

The WFO President, Theo de Jager, thanked the young farmers for their effort, enthusiasm and dedication, and the remarkable contribution they brought in the different global meetings they had the chance to attend, like CFS, HLPF, COP25, GFFA.

« We believe in you as the future leaders of our agriculture policies; you learnt more than we expected. This is not the end…, « said the WFO President, during his closing speech.

Since its inception, the Gymnasium has had a significant impact on the group, beyond expectations, as several participants highlighted.

« We started this program coming from different countries and continents, and it was not easy to get familiar with each other. Still, after a few days, we became friends. We shared our experience not only in agriculture issues but also in social life » said Denis Kabiito, a young farmer from Uganda.

« As French-speaking, when I started this training program in English, I was quiet and shy, but day by day, with my fellow young farmers, my English has improved, » said Lea Kouassi, a young farmer from Ivory Coast.

The first edition of the WFO Gymnasium training program, realized with the support of Bayer AG, came to an end. After 30 months, these forward-looking young farmers learnt how to transform today’s challenges facing agriculture into tomorrow’s opportunities towards a sustainable future for all. They have been empowered to advocate on behalf of their own communities at the world stage.

The WFO Gymnasium is much more than a training program: it represents a unique opportunity to connect and empower the farmers’ leaders of tomorrow. We can’t wait to see what the second edition will be!