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Reflections on youth and modern farming

"The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind" - Norman Borlaug

The world is fascinated by urbanization and modernization. Drastic civilization toward modern environment hinders youth in participating actively in agriculture despite the inherent potentials, especially in developing countries. This is a growing concern, what will be the future of farming and global food security without empowering and engaging the youth? 

Why? Youth are still in dilemma, is agriculture only about farming and growing crops for subsistence? They are unaware of the agribusiness side of the sector. 

The world has been transformed into digital networking. New satellite data, weather data, digitization of soil, a new sensor on the farm to monitor crop performance, etc. In order to sustain crop yield in commercial farming. These have given us a better understanding of the interaction between crops, weather, and soil. The digital world and smart technology make it easy to provide information and support increase in crop production.

Nepal is geographically a diverse agroecosystems country. About 75% household of 29.6 million population income is dependent on agricultural products. Mobile adoption in Nepal over the last ten years has exploded from less than 10 million to over 27 million population and continue to increase rapidly

Many agricultural development offices, agricultural co-operatives, NGOs, and INGOs in Nepal are enhancing and educating young farmers about mobile agriculture application for better insight into things like weather information, fertilizer quantity, disease and pest information, and market information. They are also distributing smart mobile phone and Kisan sim for smallholder farmers in Karnali district and also trained them on how to use government agricultural application for better management of crop growth.

Recently, the government of Nepal has introduced the "Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project" to enroll youth in agricultural production and reduce the migration of youth toward urban cities. This project focuses on "leaving no land fallow" and mobilizing every unemployed youth into agriculture. Use of all the modern tools and accurate information along with the engagement of the youth for better crop production is to meet the sustainable development goals in agricultural product. 

Keeping in mind sustainable farming practices, the government of Nepal is inviting young farmers to off seasonal production of vegetable under the protected house in well-managed temperature controlled system, drip irrigation for management of water in an appropriate way, mulching of soil by varying plastic material to destroying soil born pathogen and disease along which make soil more friable for better plant growth, agricultural machinery, tools and equipment, research and agricultural scientists are developing different crops hybrid varieties which are tolerant to various biotic and abiotic factors and sustainable management technique for soil by using bio-fertilizer and compost manure. All these new innovative technologies, knowledge and practices can go a long way.  

In order to sustain agriculture and encourage the youth toward agri-entrepreneurship youth network is quite essential. To this end, Young professional for Agriculture Development (YPARD) was established to motivate and encourage youth toward new innovative agricultural development. YPARD Nepal has organized “Storytelling Contest for Young Agri-Entrepreneurs” to reward inspiring stories and storytellers. 

If we can reverse the trend of increasing starvation and decreasing productivity by tapping into the power of the youth and modern farming technologies, this will lead to increased profits and increased food supply especially in areas they are needed most. 

Photo credit: Bikram Nepali