First Edition (2017-2020)

Agustina Diaz Valdez, Argentina
Agustina is 23 years old and she is from Argentina. She is studying Veterinary Sciences at the University of Salvador and she is also doing a Tertiary Rural Administrator course. She is currently the President of the Ateneo, the young farmers’ organisation of the Sociedad Rural Argentina.

Ahou Lea Kouassi, Côte d’Ivoire
Lea Kouassi is a farmer from Côte d’Ivoire and she is currently working as General treasurer at the Union Inter Régionale Victoire, UIREVI. From 2012 to 2014 she also had the role of Director General of UIREVI.

Anne Schwagerl, United States of America
Anne Schwagerl is a diversified organic grain and pastured livestock producer in western Minnesota, USA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Minnesota. She currently serves as the state secretary of Minnesota Farmers Union.

Aubriel Jones, United States of America
Aubriel Jones grew up on an Organic Farm in Western Nebraska. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Literacy and a dual minor in Global and Environmental Sustainability and Agricultural Resource Economics. She served as an Agricultural Ambassador for the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences, worked with the CSU Extension Office in their communications and outreach department, and was an advisor for ag students. Although Aubriel works part time on the farm, her full-time job is working for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union as Field Outreach and Membership Coordinator.

Brenda Tlhabane, South Africa
Brenda Tlhabane is a Livestock, Game and Crops Farmer operating in Limpopo and Gauteng Provinces in South Africa. She has dedicated her last 5 Years into the Agricultural, Land Reform and Rural Development Sector to enhance Economic Development and Upliftment of Youth and Women in Rural Areas.

Christoph Daun, Germany
Born in 1988, Christoph Daun is a young dairy farmer from Germany. In cooperation with his brother and father, he runs their family farm. The farm is located in the Eifel mountain range in western Germany next to the border of Belgium and Luxembourg. As a board member of the German Young Farmers’ Organisation (BDL), he was responsible for their representation within CEJA. He has regularly participated in CEJA meetings and is therefore familiar with CEJA’s structures and network.

Cryspin Kayitare, Rwanda
Cryspin Kayitare is a farmer and journalist communicator in agriculture; he produces severally agriculture stories and radio talk show. He is communication officer in INGABO Farmer’s Organization. He participated and contributed in deferent meetings and seminars on development of agriculture in the world.

Danielle Lee, Canada
Danielle Lee holds runs a farm with her family located just west of Calgary, Alberta. They raise commercial beef cattle, with an Angus influence and also have a small flock of North Country Cheviot sheep, which they raise primarily for lamb. She is currently the Chair of the Canadian Young Farmers Forum (CYFF). She is also a volunteer with the Calgary Stampede and their agriculture programs, especially programs aimed at educating the public about agriculture and farming.

Denis Kabiito, Uganda
Denis Kabiito is a biologist, a farmer, fisheries scientist and aqua culturist. He served as an extensionist with 10 years’ work experience in rural extension development work plus advocacy, training and lobbying. He is experienced in program development and management, monitoring and evaluation and a public health specialist. Currently, he is the national coordinator for the newly founded Uganda National Young Farmers Association and facilitator of the WFO youth committee.

Diana Lenzi, Italy
Born and raised in Rome, Diana Lenzi holds a degree in Political Science, but she dedicates herself to her true passion, professional cooking, and she also graduated from the professional school of Gambero Rosso. After a few years of total immersion among the kitchens of the most important Roman restaurants, in 2008 she was asked to manage the Family Winery, the Petroio Farm. She then moved to the farm in Siena to learn locally and directly what it means to do agriculture and quality wine and how to give entrepreneurial energy to the family business.

Dimakatso Sarah Sekhoto, South Africa
Dimakatso Sekhoto built a career in the financial services sector. She developed her understanding of agriculture working as the managing director of her family commercial farm: 2100 ha of land farming cattle, apples and grain. She was selected for various scholarships for agribusiness courses and was even selected for Young Agricultural Entrepreneurship Fellows in Oklahoma State University, US and is a MasterCard scholarship alumna at the Frankfurt School of Finance. She co-founded GrowthShoot, a company focused on youth empowerment in agriculture, the NEC member of AFASA, as the national youth coordinator and she sits on the Board of Thabang Holdings, an agricultural investment portfolio. She attends national and international conferences and agricultural forums representing youth in farming.

Giel Boey, Belgium
Giel Boey is a farmer and an experienced Chairman with a demonstrated history of working in the farming industry. Skilled in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Farms, Agriculture, and Public Speaking. Strong entrepreneurship professional with a bachelor’s degree focused in Agriculture, General from Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen.

Jannes Maes, Belgium
Born in 1991, Jannes Maes grew up on a Flemish farm (dairy cattle, sheep and arable crops) in Aalter, East of Flanders and has been passionate about agriculture and horticulture since childhood. He later attended secondary agricultural education and then obtained a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Today, he works with his family on their dairy farm, cooperating with other farmers in collecting and processing their milk. For the last two years Mr Maes has served as Vice President of CEJA. Mr Maes has been an active member of Groene Kring for several years, representing it at both regional and national level.

Meas Sovanthy, Cambodia
Meas Sovanthy is a farmer and he currently works as an individual consultant and Provincial Business Coordinator focusing on increasing agriculture production from improving crop cultural practices, higher yields and appropriate management of land and production inputs, rural livelihood improvement. He also works with famers’ organizations to provide capacity building on business plan and financial management.

Richard Bower, United Kingdom
Richard Bower is a beef and cereals family farmer in the West Midlands, England. All beef cattle are sold direct to abattoirs. 60% of Cereals are used to feed the animals the rest are marketed through merchants. He holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Agri Food Marketing with Business Studies at Harper Adams University followed by a Post Graduate certificate in Food and Fresh Produce Management. He is an active member of CEJA European Council of Young Farmers and a Henry Plumb Foundation scholar.

Sarah Crofoot, New Zealand
Is a beef and sheep farmer from New Zealand She previously worked as Meat and Fiber Policy Advisor at Federated Farmers New Zealand.

Mahess Roopun, Mauritius
Mahess Ropun is a farmer from Mauritius and he is currently working as Vice President and young farmers leader at the Falcon Citizen league, a farmers’ organisation in Mauritius.

Innocent Mzee Jumbe, Malawi
Innocent Jumbe is a 28 years old farmer based in based in Lilongwe, Malawi. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and Technology, majoring Environmental Management. He is currently working as a Seed Production Director at a family owned company called Peacock Seeds. Maize, Sugar Beans, Cowpeas, Groundnuts and Pigeon Peas are the main crops he produces, all as certified seeds. He is also involved in livestock production focusing on cattle, goats and sheep.

Veronica Barbati, Italy
Graduated in Economics and Management of Tourist Services, young entrepreneur Veronica Barbati, 28, is the young delegate of Young Coldiretti of Avellino. Veronica is the owner of the Barbati farmhouse, located in Roccabascerana. Between herd-farm farms, the farm contains a long history of traditions, tastes and love for the land. Today it has become a very important landmark in Campania, thanks also to the production of extra virgin olive oil, fresh cheeses and ricotta, strictly handmade jams, mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers in oil and under vinegar. Veronica is eager to encourage young people to rediscover the values of agriculture and defend the agro-food excellence of the area.

The first edition, which is still ongoing, was launched on October 8th, 2017, with an opening ceremony held at LUISS Guido Carli University, in Rome, in the presence of high-level representatives from different sectors with a strong interest in agriculture and supportive of the role of the young farmers.

During the weekend-long event,  the students had the chance to hear from inspirational speakers such as  H.E. Mario Arvelo Caamaño, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the UN Rome-based agencies in Rome and CFS Chair; Dr Doaa Abdel-Motaal, Executive Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford and former Deputy Chief of Staff, World Trade Organization, WTO; Dr Sabina Zaccaro, Communication and Media Specialist at FAO; Dr Theo de Jager, president of WFO; H.E. Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN Rome-based agencies in Rome. 

Above all, the young farmers participated in the 44th Plenary Session of the Committee on World Food Security, CFS, at FAO headquarters. During the plenary they had the opportunity to follow the negotiations, take the floor to make intervention on behalf of the farmer’s constituency as well as networking with different stakeholders.

After the great success of the first session in Rome, the second session of the Gymnasium training program was held in Berlin from 16th to 17th January 2018, during the International Green Week.

Speakers included Mr. Christian Gaebel, Policy Officer at Deutscher Bauernverband (DBV); Mr. Jens Munk. Coming from the WFO Danish organisation, Danish Agriculture & Food Council (DAFC); Dr Franz Josef Feiter, former German Secretary of State and former Secretary General of COPA-COGECA.

During this two-day long event, the Gymnasium participants worked together, among others, to draft and adopt the outcome document that was the basis for the declaration that Young Farmers delivered at the 10th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference of the Global Forum on Food and Agriculture, on 20th January 2018. 

After meeting in Rome and Berlin gatherings, the Gymnasium group convened in Rome, at the LUISS Guido Carli University, for three days, from October 11th to 13th.

As already happened in the previous sessions, the Gymnasium was involved in a very full program, also attending the Annual Plenary Session of the Committee on World Food Security, CFS, that took place from October 15th to 19th at FAO headquarters in Rome.

During the plenary, they took the floor to make intervention on behalf of the farmers and they were also invited as panellists in several side events.

Furthermore, on October 12th and 13th the group joined the lectures of the Master’s in Food Law, run by the LUISS Guido Carli University, debating with the university’s students on legal foundations of multilevel system governing the food sector at the international level. 

The fourth session of the WFO Gymnasium training programme arrived in the heart of the largest annual gathering on SDGs implementation, the UN High-Level Political Forum 2019, with 16 young farmers from all over the world gathering together in New York, for two weeks of networking, debates and skills training.

Under the theme “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the July 2019 session of the WFO Gymnasium trained the participants on what is the history of the stakeholders’ engagement in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, from its design up to date. Representatives from key multilateral Organizations and private sector entities joined the class on July 13th and 14th to share their experience in this context.

The impact of this Gymnasium Session will live on long after our young farmers have returned to their home, not only for the different and inspirational lessons. But above all for having had the chance to be involved in the works of the UN High-Level Political Forum 2019, that took place from July 9th to 18th at UN headquarters in New York.

The fifth session of the WFO Gymnasium program took place in Madrid on December 6th and 7th. It brought together once again the group of young farmers of the first edition of the training program created by WFO to prepare the future leaders of farmers organisations.

This group of active young farmers leaders from all over the world gathered in Madrid on the occasion of the UN Conference for Climate Change COP25, to deepen and reinforce their knowledge of the international decision-making process on climate change.

This session focused on Climate Finance, Agroecology and Digital Transformation for climate change, among others, exposing the participants to the work and insights of the leading organisations working around the Climate change agenda and involved in the COP25.