February 16, 2023 – The new group of young farmers from all over the world attending the WFO Gymnasium High-Level Capacity Building Program convened digitally for the official start of the third edition of the program.

The meeting featured the participation of the WFO President, Arnold Puech d’Alissac, WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori, Jennifer Crall, Global Head Partnerships-Growers Engagement & AgriChain Activation at Bayer Crop Science and Nicole Bolomey, Director International of the Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA).

Thanks to the contribution of AHA, the initial 20 available seats could be expanded to 22.

Exceptional guests in the meeting were the WFO Gymnasium Alumni from the first and the second editions, who welcomed the new group of young farmers telling their positive and inspiring experiences as participants in the past editions.

Led by Giulia De Castro, WFO Advocacy, Policy and Partnerships Officer, the kick-off meeting was the occasion for the new group of young farmers, ages 18 and 35, to introduce themselves and shared their expectations of the program.

The WFO Gymnasium is the central pillar of the long-lasting collaboration between WFO and Bayer, aiming to empower young farmers to fulfil their potential as the next generation of farmer leaders and advocates for modern agriculture.

Both organisations recognise that today’s young farmers play a critical role in achieving global food security and tackling climate change while improving the viability level on the farm.

I am thrilled about this third edition of the WFO Gymnasium Training Program. Young farmers are our present and our future. Nothing gives me more emotion than knowing there is a generation of passionate and energetic future farmers leaders willing and committed to boosting the entire agricultural sector towards a sustainable future for all: our farmers, our people, and our planet,” said the WFO President Arnold Puech d’Alissac.We are all called to do our part to create a youth-friendly environment by adopting farmer-focused policies, designing tailor-made youth educational and leadership programs, and facilitating their access to resources, infrastructure, education, capital, and contributions.”

Jennifer Crall of Bayer Crop Science added: “Agriculture is going through a major transformation; the farming that our great-grandparents did is different than the farming of our parents and likewise the farming of our parents will not be the same as our farming methods in the future. To address the global challenges – from climate challenges to societal pressures, increased government regulation and value chain demands –, and to ensure that farming fulfills its potentials for sustaining good livelihoods, involving the next generation of farmers and elevating their voices is key.”

The WFO Gymnasium Program recognizes that learning is at the centre of all professional experiences. Soft skills acquisition and intellectual capital management are crucial for succeeding in a highly competitive environment requiring diversified knowledge as well as high-level specialisation.

In the framework of the WFO Gymnasium, young farmers learn from international leaders working in various policy areas at the global level as well as with each other. They attend and actively engage in global events related to agriculture (e.g., Plenary Sessions of the Committee on World Food Security, CFS; Global Forum on Food and Agriculture, GFFA; UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, COP; UN High-Level Political Forum, HLPF; United Nations Food Systems Summit, UNFSS, and COP 28). Furthermore, an expert coaching team will offer soft skills trainings to help the young farmers participants accelerate their leadership skills and boost their advocacy capacities.

Launched in 2017, in close partnership with Bayer, the WFO Gymnasium Program has already trained and empowered 46 active young farmers from all around the world and offered them more than 50 high-level advocacy opportunities at international conferences to effectively elevate the global farmers’ voices into key policy-making arenas.