What is it like for young farmers to represent the voice of youth in agriculture on the global stage? In this article, WFO Gymnasium participants offer their valuable insights and reflections on their involvement in the World Food Forum (WFF) flagship event.
The 2023 World Food Forum (WFF) flagship event took place in Rome, Italy, from 16 to 20 October at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters. This global gathering, powered by the World Food Forum, an independent, youth-led global network facilitated by FAO, aimed to advance actionable solutions for the transformation of Food Systems, emphasizing the power of intergenerational collaboration across various sectors, from policy and science to education and investment.
A delegation from the World Farmers’ Organisation actively participated in numerous panels and roundtables, bringing the global farmers’ perspective to the forefront. Among the members of the delegation were two young WFO representatives, Ms Josiane Irakarama, a former WFO Gymnasium attendee from INGABO Syndicate, and Ms Silvia Caprara, a current student in the WFO Gymnasium from ANGA.
We reached out to them and asked several questions to gain insights into their experiences and key takeaways from the WFF 2023.
Foto on the left: Photo credit must be given: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto. Editorial use only. Copyright ©FAO.
Josiane, you’ve taken part in various events during the WFF 2023 on behalf of WFO. Did you feel like there was room for youth to really take the lead?
During the WFF 2023, I had the privilege of participating in several events on behalf of the WFO as the WFO Gymnasium Alumna as well as an INGABO Farmers Syndicate member. It was truly inspiring to see the commitment of young people to the discussions and initiatives. There was indeed room for youth to take the lead, and their active involvement was evident throughout the forum. The intergenerational exchange of ideas was a valuable aspect of the event, and I believe that empowering youth is essential for the future of food systems.
What were your key takeaways from the WFF 2023? Do you have a positive outlook on the younger generation leading the future of food systems?
My key takeaways from the WFF 2023 were incredibly positive. I witnessed the passion and dedication of the younger generation to address global food system challenges. They brought innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to the table, which gives me a very positive outlook on their ability to lead the way in shaping the future of food systems. It’s crucial to continue supporting and mentoring these young leaders to ensure a sustainable and equitable food future for all.
Silvia, during WFF 2023, you participated in a roundtable with other young family farmers. Did you notice that, despite coming from different countries, you share common challenges? Were there any common solutions discussed during the roundtable?
During the young farmers’ roundtable around generational turnover and sustainability in family farming, I had the opportunity to talk with other young farmers from all over the world. During the various speeches, I noticed how we shared that in some countries farming is your last chance, the path you choose when everything else failed, while in others inheriting our parents’ family farms is not profitable enough to make a living. We agree on the need to change the narratives around farming, starting from us, the key players: investing in training to become better advocates to spread our voice and bring more youth back to farming.
It was your first international UN forum, and it’s a unique one since it’s led by youth. Can you share your experience and key takeaways from the event?
When you attend such events, you really learn to question yourself, because most of the time you run into completely new points of view and experiences. I believe in the value of listening to fellow young farmers who are more used to international events, getting the chance to talk to them and ask them about their countries, while observing the dynamics going on at the table. I feel that there is always so much to learn.
The World Farmers’ Organisation’s (WFO) Gymnasium, which is attended by Ms Silvia Caprara and from which has graduated Ms Josiane, is a Higl-Level Capacity Building Program, launched in 2017 in collaboration with Bayer and Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA), already trained and empowered 46 active young farmers around the world and provided them with more than 50 high-level advocacy opportunities at international conferences to effectively elevate the voices of global farmers into key policy-making arenas.