Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Asian Youth Forum delegates want to improve conditions of young agriculture workers

Dr. Bruce Tolentino talks with participants of the 3rd Asian Youth Forum during their visit to IRRI on 14 August 2015.

Around 120 young people from around the world visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as part of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 3rd Asian Youth Forum (AYF3) to get an overview of agriculture and IRRI’s contribution to the sector. This year’s AYF3 called on stakeholders “to harness the demographic dividend in Asia through youth participation and engagement in generating and up-scaling of solutions for youth employment” through the theme, Investing in Youth: Engagement, Education, Employment, and Entrepreneurship.

“Looking at youth employment, most young people working in the agriculture sector earn less than USD 1.25,” said Ponce Samaniego, lead youth coordinator for ADB.  “We wanted to look at that dimension of youth in agriculture and how we can improve their conditions.”

IRRI’s Deputy Director General for Communication and Partnerships, Dr. Bruce Tolentino, welcomed the participants, presented some of IRRI’s work, and led an open discussion. The participants, whose ages ranged between 15 and 30, also toured the Riceworld Museum to learn more about rice, its history, culture, and products.

The AYF3 participants were generally impressed with what IRRI does and now have a better understanding of its efforts for food security.

“I was really impressed by the technology input that IRRI is actually giving farmers,” said 19-year-old Anand from Bangalore, India.

Ms. Ham Sae Rom from South Korea was equally impressed. “I’d like to give my warmest thanks to the scientists at IRRI who participate in creating solutions for food security and the food crisis in the world.”

As for what the youth can contribute to the rice sector strategy, Anand phrased it rather well. “A huge way that we can influence the rice output and food security in our country is by creating awareness that agriculture is a vital field for the survival of our planet,” he said. “Everyone relies on farmers. By raising awareness about the issues that we have with food security, I think we would take the first step toward actually obtaining food security.”

ADB’s 3rd AsianYouth Forum was held on 12-13 August in celebration of the 2015 UN International Youth Day. They visited IRRI on 14 August. ADB is partnering with IRRI to develop and disseminate climate-resilient rice varieties and promote water-saving technologies in rice cultivation for drought-prone areas in Asia.

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