An 18-month program for WFO young farmers to become future leaders in the agricultural sector and participate as key stakeholders in the global political debate on agriculture

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, November 10, 2022 – On the occasion of the UNFCCC COP 27 Youth & Future Generations Day, the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) and Bayer Crop Science are pleased to announce the official launch of the third edition of the Gymnasium High-Level Capacity Building Program.

The WFO Gymnasium is the central pillar of the long-lasting collaboration between WFO and Bayer, aiming to empower young farmers to become future leaders in the agricultural sector.

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.

Education is at the centre of all professional experiences in the present economy. Soft skills acquisition and intellectual capital management are crucial for succeeding in a highly competitive environment requiring diverse knowledge and high-level specialisation.

Focusing on young people is a priority for WFO. Young farmers are the present (not only the future) of agriculture, and I hold a special place in my heart for their energy, dreams and aspirations. Investing in building the capacity of young farmers to enable them to assume leadership roles on farms, farmers’ organisations, and cooperatives is crucial to empower them, as well as their families and their communities. We are all called to do our part to create a youth-friendly environment by adopting farmer-focused policies, designing tailor-made youth educational programs, and facilitating their access to resources, infrastructure, education, capital, and contributions,” said the WFO President Arnold Puech d’Alissac.

In the framework of the WFO Gymnasium, young farmers learn from international leaders who work in various policy areas at the global level. Additionally, 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).

From 2017 to 2022, the Gymnasium Program have already trained and empowered 46 active young farmers from all over the world and offered them more than 50 opportunities of attending international conferences to advocate on behalf of global farmers.

The challenges that agriculture faces in feeding a growing population in spite of accelerating climate change and extreme weather events are bigger than any single generation can solve alone,” said Natasha Santos, Head of Global Stakeholder Affairs and Strategic Partnerships for Bayer Crop Science. “Making sure that we are a supportive part of the engagement with the next generation of agricultural leaders is a critical way to ensure that novel solutions for these issues get the support they need and a seat at the table for intergenerational decision making.”

I had the privilege to be one of the young farmers selected for the second edition of the WFO Gymnasium program. This incredible experience exposed me to the reality of the global political debate on agriculture while enriching me with leadership skills,” stated Khoushbou Singh Sewraj, Vice President of F.A.L.C.O.N Young Farmers in Mauritius, highlighting how such capacity-building programs are crucial for young farmers to understand their role as leaders in the agricultural sector.

Imagine if today’s agricultural leaders from countries worldwide had been able to know each other between the ages of 18 and 35, discussing trade, environmental and technical issues back then? What value would it have added to today’s deliberations?

That is what the WFO Gymnasium aims at creating, a unique opportunity to connect and empower the future leaders of tomorrow.