More than 2,500 youth from 120 countries took part in a variety of engaging lectures, workshops and public events from October 3 to 6.
Young farmers, food producers and food professionals from all over the world gathered in Milan to discuss the future of food and farming at We Feed the Planet, a four-day programme hosted by Slow Food and the Slow Food Youth Network.
More than 2,500 youth from 120 countries took part in a variety of engaging lectures, workshops and public events. The delegates represent different geographic backgrounds and professions: over 160 chefs, 100 shepherds, 500 farmers, 80 fishers, 450 students, and 1,000 academics and experts.
IFAD sent a delegation of 40 youth to attend, including a mix of small-scale farmers and food producers from IFAD-supported projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia as well as IFAD interns and staff from its Rome headquarters.
“Feeding the world in the future might be the biggest challenge for our generation,” says Joris Lohman, representative of the Slow Food Youth Network.
“Farmers do much more than produce food. They teach us to protect seeds, plants, water and soil and show us how to enjoy the beauty of small things, how to appreciate the wisdom that allows us to protect the earth and future generations,” says Lohman.
The youth represent different geographic backgrounds and professions: over 160 chefs, 100 shepherds, 500 farmers, 80 fishers, 450 students, and 1,000 academics and experts.
“We need radical changes, that is why we are asking young people to join us in Milan, to exchange ideas and create the food system of the future, because we will, together, feed the planet.”
Engaging rural youth in food production
Despite development gains in recent years, hundreds of millions of people still go to bed hungry every night.
Approximately 87 per cent of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live in developing countries. The majority of youth live in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, and in South-Central and South-East Asia.
Rural poverty is one of the main drivers of youth migration – as youth move into urban areas.
However, by 2050 the world will need to feed two billion more people, and solving this challenge will require engaging rural youth in food production.
This makes events such as We Feed the Planet so important, says Mattia Prayer Galletti, IFAD’s Lead Technical Specialist for Rural Development and Institutions.
“The rationale of this gathering is to boost the exchange of experience and ideas to understand better how to face the emerging challenges of this changing world and learn from who is directly feeding the planet,” says Galletti.
The event paired up youth from around the world so they can learn from each other. Carlos Melendez, 27, from Venezuela (left) is a dairy farmer. His biggest concern for the world is climate change. Claudia De Rossi, 24, from Italy (right) works at IFAD. Her biggest concern for the world is extreme poverty.
“When young people in rural areas understand that agriculture and food production doesn’t only mean poverty and over-exploitation, but rather that they are feeding the world, that will be an outstanding boost,” he continues.
One of the rural youth attending the event is Carlos Melendez, 27, a dairy farmer from Siquisique, Venezuela.
Despite a broken irrigation system, which has impeded his ability to produce more on his farm, he says he’s happy living on the land.
“Most of the young people in Venezuela leave rural areas,” says Melendez. “They abandon the land. But people around me say that I’m lucky, because I managed to build my own life and I’m doing what I’ve always loved to do.”