Second Edition (2020-2022)

Adriaan Joubert (AJ) van Wyk, South Africa
AJ grew up on a family farm as the 4th generation of Vetkragga Farming. Vetkragga Farming operates in sheep, cattle and small grains and exists since 1946. They live and farm with the motto: “Faith, Family, Farm”.
Graduated at the Oakdale Agricultural High School in 2015, he continued his education studying for Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the Stellenbosch University.
He joined the family farm at the end of 2018, and in December 2020 AJ got married to Hanri Janse van Rensburg.

Andile Mcoyi, South Africa
Andile is a biotechnologist by profession, but her love and passion for agriculture led her into farming. She worked as a laboratory quality analyst before resigning to focus on agriculture. After identifying the gap of women in the agricultural environment, she wanted to empower women and encourage women’s engagement in agriculture, thus utilising and opening up more opportunities for women in agriculture.

Angèle Mersch, Luxembourg
Angèle is 24 years old and works at her parents’ horses farm. After her education at the “Lycée Technique Agricole” in Ettelbruck/Luxembourg, she continued her studies in Germany to become a “Pferdewirtschaftsmeisterin”. She completed various internships on farms in Germany, France and Belgium. Since May 2018, she is the president of the Luxembourgian agricultural youth association “Lëtzebuerger Landjugend a Jongbaueren”. Angèle was part of the WFO Young Farmers’ Delegation at the 11th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA 2019).

Angelica Monti, Italy
Angelica is a 22-year-old young Italian farmer. Enrolled in the Faculty of Economics and Marketing of Agroindustrial Sector at the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, she is about to graduate. On Riolo Terme’s hills (Emilia Romagna Region) Angelica’s family runs a farm on a land of 100 hectares with vineyard, sowable crop and pasture. The main activity is the breeding of “Romagnola” beef cattle, a typical breed of the Emilia-Romagna region. Angelica takes care of the cattle with her mother and her sister, investing in genetics and innovation. Angelica is eager to preserve the agricultural biodiversity, considered as an intangible heritage of her territory.

Bram Van Hecke, Belgium
Born at a farm in Belgium, Bram was already passioned about agriculture, farmers and the countryside at a young age. Because of that, he studied agricultural engineering and political sciences. Voluntary involvement with rural youth and young farmers finally led to his current position as president of the Flemish young farmers.

Caterina Luppa, Italy
Caterina is an agronomist specialized in sustainable agriculture and soil quality. She works for the startup that she co-founded to develop a sustainable process to rare insects in Italian farms. Meanwhile, she is developing management skills, and she is the president of the young farmers’ association ANGA Umbria.

Chrispen Mununga, Zimbabwe
Chrispen is an agricultural economist at the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) with 4 years’ experience in the agribusiness and agriculture economics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics and Development and is currently pursuing a master’s Degree in Data Analytics. Well versed with agricultural economics, agriculture labour law, business etiquacy, cooperate governance, policy lobby and advocacy, effective communication and negotiations at the National Employment Council. Very much interested in trade and policy formulation such that he is currently the project coordinator for a poultry rapid assessment programme. He has been actively involved with the “Women @ Work” campaign. Currently, he is the Secretary General of the Agricultural Youth Apex Council.

Didier Yves Ishimwe, Rwanda
Didier Yves was born in Muhanga-Rwanda. He had an A-level certificate in Physics-Chemistry-Mathematics, and he is a farmer like his parents for 5 years. His hobby is playing musical instruments.

Edith Akinyi Alula, Kenya
Brought up in the rural countryside of Busia County, Kenya, Edith spent much of her childhood days in farms, shaping her desire for agriculture and her career choices at school and college. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management. She actively participates in community agricultural initiatives to bolster farmers’ awareness of modern farming systems and promote high-value crops. This passion has carried her to train farmers in agronomy, field management, harvesting and post-harvesting handling and marketing, and encourage the youth to take up agribusiness as a livelihood source. She is enthusiastic about agriculture and specifically production efficiency and sustainability through technical and experimental skills. Her long-term goal and untiring commitment are to engage more with influential decision and policymakers to improve food security in her country and the world and drive dignity and create autonomy for farmers in developing countries.

Elisabeth Hidén, Sweden
Elisabeth is 25 years old, and she grew up on her family farm in central Sweden. She studied agronomy economics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and after that, she moved to my fiancé’s farm. She was elected president of the Federation of Young Swedish Farmers in March 2020.

Hannes Bumann, Germany
Born in 1995, Hannes grew up on a crop farm in the northern region of Germany. He runs the family farm and is specialised on crop and vegetable production. As a board member of the regional young farmers club in Schleswig-Holstein, he was responsible for representing the German Young Farmers’ Organisation. He also participated as a delegate in CEJA’s working groups.

Jacqueline dos Santos Persson, Mozambique
Born in 1997, Jacqueline started working at an early age of 11 to help her parents. Thanks to agriculture, tomatoes, cabbages, potatoes, dirty hands, long days under the sun, and much more she now has a degree in Business Management.

Joshua Shedrac Waigolo, Uganda
Born in 1990 in Kiwolera village, Kamuli District, in the Eastern Region of Uganda, Joshua is currently serving as a District Coordinator-Buyende District Farmers Association (BUDFA), a member organisation of Uganda National Farmers’ Federation (UNFFE). He is the Co-founder & CEO-Mt Atlas Horticulture Initiative Organization LTD (MAHIO) Uganda, and through MAHIO Uganda he is an active member of African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN-Afrika), Eastern African Farmers Federation (EAFF) and Family Farming & Agroecology Community of Practice AFRICA platform under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, Science and Technology, a Diploma in Agriculture, Science and Technology and a Certificate in General Agriculture Science and Technology (Crop and Animal Husbandry) from Busoga University.

Josiane Irakarama, Rwanda
Josiane is a young farmer from Rwanda. She has a bachelorsꞌ degree in Public Administration and Good Governance and is an active member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Alumni. Josianeꞌs passion for agriculture heads way back from her early childhood. She grew up seeing her mother strive to raise a decent family with high integrity thanks to her profession as a farmer, alongside her evolution from being an ordinary rural African woman to a representative and leader in several farmers organizations. Josiane is one of the founding members of Bright Agriculture Youth Cooperative and is currently working as a communications consultant in coffee farmersꞌ cooperatives. As her mother and other remarkable female leaders before her, Josiane is committed to enhancing youth and women empowerment in the agricultural sector.

Julie Bissonnette, Canada
Julie has been President of the FRAQ (La Fédération de la relève Agricole du Québec) since 2018 and has been involved in the network for almost 10 years now. Born on a dairy farm near Montreal, Julie cares deeply about farming. After graduating from the Institut de Technologie Agroalimentaire (ITA), the Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec campus in 2013, she has worked in various agriculture areas. She now helps her spouse on his dairy farm that started up in 2014, near Drummondville. She also works as an agricultural technician for an agri-environmental club. Whether as an administrator at La Financière Agricole du Québec, as a representative on the Canadian Young Farmers Forum, on the general council of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles or even as chair of the Trust of the Réseau express Métropolitain (REM), Julie’s passions are defending the interests of young farmers and improving their daily lives and their future.

Katlego George Lefifi, South Africa
Katlego is a young farmer who affiliates with the African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) as a youth representative and Gauteng AFASA Youth Chair and a Provincial Elective Committee member. He has 12 years of farming experience, and he is also a biodiversity specialist by profession. He specialised in Agricultural Science at the Tshwane University of Technology, Business Management at the University of Pretoria and Agri-Business Management at the University of South Africa.
Katlego served 5 years working as an Environmental Education Officer at the South African National Biodiversity Institute and worked with the Agricultural Research Council as a farm assistant and researcher on South African Medicinal Plants. He also held directorship in 2 Agriculture and Consulting companies.

Khoushbou Singh Sewraj, Mauritius
Born to a planter’s family, Khoushbou started practising agricultural activities when she was 13 years old. She became more interested in livestock rearing and crop plantation during her course at the University of Mauritius. Being personally involved in the farming activities, she is striving towards a rebranding of the narrative of being a farmer. As the Project Coordinator of F.A.L.C.O.N (Farmers in Agriculture, Livestock, Cooperative and Organic Network) Association and Secretary of Falcon Young Farmers, she is working towards the betterment of local farmers-youth, women, elderly coupled with the conservation of the natural environment.

Lakshuman Aryal, Nepal
Lakshuman is a young farmer with a keen interest in transforming subsistence agriculture practices into commercial farming practices to enhance production and productivity. He is an active member of the Small Farmer Agriculture Cooperative Ltd. of Illam (Eastern Nepal), a member organization of Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Ltd. (NACCFL). He completed proficiency level education and gained an academic knowledge of 1yrs from Cross Border Agriculture Training Program 2016/17 with the support of the Government of Israel and Small Farmer Development Bank, a partner organization of NACCFL.

Matteo Pagliarani, Italy
Born in 1994, Matteo has been working since 2012 as a young agricultural entrepreneur in the family cooperative specialized in agricultural-social multifunctionality: sheep, cattle and goat breeding, wine production, land management, catering, renewable energy etc. Since 2014 he has been the Coordinator of AGIA – CIA Italian Farmers in the Romagna area. In 2020 he published his first book entitled “I did not want to be a farmer”, an autobiography about the rural world’s beauty. He is passionate about territorial marketing, the food and beverage world and effective communication.

Peter Waldherr, Austria
Peter is 27 years old and comes from Austria. He grew up on her parents’ dairy farm. He is very interested in the agricultural business, and he is currently studying Animal Science at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna.

Phanna Chhoem, Cambodia
Born in 1989, Phanna graduated in Rural Development at the Svay Rieng University in 2016. He started working for the Cambodian Farmers Federation Association of Agricultural Producers (CFAP-Cambodia) in 2018 as Executive Secretary (ES) and assistant to the managing director, focusing on building the capacity of farmers leaders and their staff on agricultural technical skills and information communication technology (ICT). Moreover, he provides advisory support on agriculture to farmers through “App Chamka” when farmers needed technical assistance.

Phyllis Kadzo Kalama, Kenya
Phyllis is a young small-scale farmer of indigenous chicken in Kilifi, Kenya. She is passionate about youth involvement in agriculture. She is currently involved in volunteering activities with the Kilifi County Government’s project “National Rural Agricultural Inclusive Growth” that deals with uplifting the farmer of selected value chains, hence improving their productivity and profitability in the long run.

Rudo Chitapi, Zimbabwe
Rudo is a young, vibrant farmer focusing on honey and horticulture crop production. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration. She also collaborates with ZimApiculture Trust, a local non-governmental organisation that provides technical and material support to beekeepers in Zimbabwe’s rural communities. To promote youth participation in agriculture, Rudo offers agriculture and basic entrepreneurship training programs to young potential farmers.

Ruramiso Mashumba, Zimbabwe
Ruramiso is a young woman farmer in Marondera. After getting a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business Management at the University of West England (UWE), she returned to Zimbabwe and in 2012 she started to run the farm she inherited from her parents. The farm was just a bush with no equipment. Today the farm has tractors, planting equipment, centre pivot and crop protection equipment.

Shalini Seaton, Jamaica
Shalini is a 29-year-old farmer from the rural district of New Market, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica and is also Chairperson of the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers’ (JNRWP) Youth Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology from the University of Technology, Jamaica and an associate degree in Natural Science from the Hampton School. She launched the YouTube channel “Farmer Chic” where she shares information to aid, inspire and motivate other young people, particularly young women, to launch in a farming profession.

Tracey Miller, United States
Tracey is 29 years old and is from the United States. Tracey and her family have cattle on the family farm in North Dakota, and she has an off-farm job as a government relations specialist. Tracey and her husband RJ are continuing to grow their operation, expanding recently from cattle into cropland. Tracey serves on the Burleigh County Farmers Union Board of Directors, the North Dakota State University Extension Advisory Board, and is an active member of North Dakota Farmers Union’s Women In Leadership Development (WILD) program and North Dakota Farmers Union EPIC youth program.

From November 25 to 27, the new class of young farmers attending the WFO Gymnasium High- Level Capacity Building Programme convened digitally for the first session of the 2020 – 2022 edition of the training program.

This first session’s overall theme was “Science, Research and Innovation in the agricultural sector: how to close the gap with the farmers”.

International experts joining the session as teachers included Peer Ederer, Program and Science Director, Global Food and Agribusiness Network and member of WFO Scientific Council; Tony Siantonas, Director, Scaling Positive Agriculture, WBCSD; Serpil Tascioglu, Director Foods Innovation & Transformation, Unilever; Giovanni Frajese, WFO Scientific Advisor and Coordinator of the WFO Scientific Council; Suzanne van Tilburg, Global Head Food & Agri Networks, Rabobank; Natasha Santos, VP Stakeholders Strategy and Affairs and Mark Edge, Director, Seeds & Traits Business Development for LMICs, Bayer AG.

Furthermore, the students worked together and exercised their leadership skills with life coaches, Annalisa Maffey and Giada Boni. The soft skills program will accompany the overall 2020 – 2022 edition to make young farmers able to develop and present their own positions on matters related to the global agricultural agenda with the self-confidence and the communications skills of international high-level experts on agriculture.

This first session took place on the margins of “Bold Actions for Food as a Force for Good” (23-24 November), the first official event in preparations of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, co-hosted among others by WFO, and the students had the opportunity to attend as WFO delegates.

The second session of the WFO Gymnasium High- Level Capacity Building Programme took place on 2-4 August 2021, back-to-back the Pre-UN Food Systems Summit that took place in a hybrid format at FAO headquarters in Rome, from 26 to 28 July 2021.

On the first day, the young farmers had the opportunity to meet and exchange with the following international experts: Julia Fendel, Project Manager, AgrarKontakte International (AKI) who presented the Transitional Agriculture project, a 3-year exchange program based on a close exchange with African Farmers’ Organisations on challenges and solutions about family farming in fast-changing, transitional contexts. Furthermore, the Gymnasium group had a very interesting session co-led by Earlene Cruz, Founder and Director at Kitchen Connection and Khaled Emam, representative of the UN Children & Youth Major Group, aimed at showing two examples of the work youth was doing at the global level.

On the second day, the session continued with a lecture by Yixuan Shao, Partnerships Officer, UNFSS Secretariat, who talked about how the producers were engaged in the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) process as well as what the expectations were towards the UNFSS to take place in September 2021. Finally, the last session featured the participation of Jim Leandro Cano, Chair, Youth Alliance for Zero Hunger with the support of Bram Van Hecke, President of Groene Kring, member of the Gymnasium and WFO representative in the Youth Alliance.

Finally, on the third day, the Gymnasium group had a session with the life coaches, Annalisa Maffey and Giada Bono, to work on soft skills.

From November 15 to 17, the group of young farmers participated in the WFO third session of the Gymnasium High- Level Capacity Building Programme.

This third session took place at the margins of the UNFCCC COP26 that took place in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31 October to 12 November, and its focus was on climate change.

On the first day, the students worked together and exercised their leadership skills with their life coaches, Annalisa Maffey and Giada Boni, with a very dynamic session focused on negotiation skills.

On 16 November, the session was organised around the Climakers Alliance, its mandate and work within the regional and global climate change debate. Therefore, after a first overall presentation by Giovanna Amelio, WFO Climakers Coordinator, the African experience was shared by Emmerance Tuyishime, Programme Officer, PAFO and by Norbert Tuyishime, Agribusiness and Trade Officer, EAFF.

On 17 November, the students had the opportunity to hear from the following experts: Chia-Ling, Division Chief, Latin American and Caribbean Division and Thomas Peng, Specialist of the project of Improving Productivity of Rice and Common bean from ICDF Taiwan; Rudolph Dadey, Youth Engagement Coordinator and Noëlle Moutout, Associate Legal Officer at WIPO; Benjamin Rivoire, Head of Seed Sector Cooperation and Regional Development, UPOV; Monica McBride, Director of Global Partnerships for Environment and Landscapes, Crop Science Division, Bayer.     

The final session of the Gymnasium High-Level Capacity Building Programme 2nd edition took place in the framework of the WFO 2022 General Assembly, in Budapest, from 7 to 10 of June.

This was the first occasion for the students to finally meet in person as well as to meet with other stakeholders.

During the General Assembly, some of the young farmers who took part in the 2nd edition, had the chance to network and promote the Gymnasium programme to external partners and stakeholders, thus also practising the soft skills gained during their Leadership programme.

Their training started on 7 June, when they worked together in a closed session exercising their negotiating and leadership skills with life coach Annalisa Maffey, as well as getting ready for the next day’s presentation of their final group work.

On 8 June, during a high-level session moderated by Dimitri Houtart, BBC Rural Affairs Champion, Caterina Luppa, ANGA, Italy and Khoushbou Singh Sewraj, F.A.L.C.O.N Association, Mauritius – on behalf of their class – took the stage to present their final group work, “WFO Gymnasium Program Manifesto – Linkages Between Food Systems and Climate Change”.

Those promising young farmers also celebrated their successes in a public graduation ceremony.
WFO former President, Theo de Jager, awarded each student who attended and completed the WFO Gymnasium 2nd edition.
We are proud of all our Young Farmers! Now, let’s farm the future together!