For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. The demographic fueling urbanization the most is youth, who are 40% more likely than older generations to move from rural to urban areas, often seeking increased access to education, formalized work opportunities, or a better standard of living.1 While young adults pursue prospects far from the rural settings and villages where they were born, who is left to sow the land they leave behind?
Says Cherrie Atliano, a young social entrepreneur from the Philippines: “In developing countries, it’s scandalous that the people who produce the food are the poorest and the hungriest. Young people are abandoning the countryside to seek better opportunities in urban areas. We can’t blame them, as they have seen the poverty that farming bestowed upon their parents.”
While many youth dismiss agriculture, some of their social-minded peers see the increasing demands in the field and have begun transforming one of the world’s oldest sectors into a hub for innovation and inclusive growth. From applying technology to make cultivation more efficient to harnessing the industry to protect the environment and increase public health, the surprising drivers behind this burgeoning agriculture renaissance come from the same generation that has often overlooked farming altogether.
‘Smart, Cool and Sexy’: Redefining the Culture of Agriculture
From a young age, Cherrie found her passion in supporting agriculture in her country—in high school, she volunteered to teach English to subsistence farmers in her village to help them sell their surpluses at city markets. Recognizing the urban migration taking place, after college Cherrie founded Agricool with the goal of making farming in the Philippines ‘smart, cool, and sexy.’ Agricool encourages the younger generation to pursue careers in agriculture-related enterprises by showing them that farming is more than getting your hands dirty—it’s entrepreneurship, marketing, science, and innovation. After nurturing the skills and livelihoods of 50 farmers and transforming wasted land into a productive agriculture cooperative, Cherrie recently founded a new venture, AGREA, which promotes an ‘ecology of dignity’ focused on fair-trade, sustainable agriculture and replicable models of agri-based economies in developing countries.
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