Young entrepreneurs and professionals emphasize the youths’ role in transforming the systems
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative in Bangladesh Robert Simpson has said that Bangladeshi youths, despite many challenges, are coming up with innovative game-changing solutions that can leverage transformation in the agriculture and food sector.
He highlighted the achievements of youth in the agri-food system of the country while addressing an event marking International Youth Day on Thursday.
Simpson said private sector partners are promoting small-scale farming and agri-businesses to maximize their profit through access to finance, agricultural inputs, advisory services, insurance, and markets; and creating applications as a one-stop virtual sales solution.
He also talked about the important roles of academia, private sector actors, NGOs, development partners, and the government, in nurturing the youth.
International Youth Day celebrates the qualities of young people and recognises the challenges that today’s youth face.
The theme of International Youth Day 2021 is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.
More than 50 students from seven different universities of the country joined in a discussion with six young entrepreneurs and professionals to emphasize the youths’ role in transforming the food systems.
The event was organized by FAO’s Dhaka Food System project, an initiative funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Professor Dr Lutful Hassan, the vice-chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), graced the event as the chief guest.
Paula Schindeler, the deputy head of mission t the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, was present as the special guest.
“This year’s IYD theme is timely and promising. It is now well recognized that simply producing food will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing. Social-, economic- and environmental aspects of food systems are equally important for a healthier planet," said Paula.
"For that, we have to convert the existing food system where we will need more and more innovative and capable young people to boost the transformation process," she said.
John Taylor, the chief technical adviser of Dhaka Food System project, said with growth and expansion around the city, and rising land prices, it becomes difficult for farmers in the periphery to maintain their farms, which leads to food having to come from further and further away.
"This can lead to higher costs for our food,” said Taylor while talking about the food system and its challenges.
FAO invited six young entrepreneurs and professionals, who have contributed to different areas of the food system in Bangladesh, to share their experiences with the participants.
The speakers for this event were Fahad Ifaz, the CEO of iFarmer; Shamim Murad, the general manager of Digital Services, ACI Agribusiness; Sharmeen Islam Eva, student, Bangladesh Agricultural University; Mukul Islam, Successful Entrepreneur (SaFaL project); Sudip Debnath, Assistant Professor, Khulna University; and Jannati Akhter Shumi, Community Nutrition Volunteer (SaFaL project).
As expressed by youth during the Pre-Summit of the UNFSS in July, young people are concerned about the existing food systems that are no longer fit to purpose.
The current generation has not given the next generation the sustainable means of feeding a larger population.
Young people are to inherit a planet that will be four degrees warmer, threatening the availability and nutritional quality of food.
From farm to fork, food systems account for about one-third of all global greenhouse gases.
Food’s value chains are becoming increasingly complex, with foods travelling longer and passing through multiple stages. In addition, food loss and waste became a major challenge in the food systems. More than 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted each year.
People in the age group of 18 to 35 years comprise one-third of Bangladesh's population and a significant number of them are women.
The health, education and active engagement of this segment are crucial for achieving a sustainable food system for the country.
The youth wish to point out that leaders today should be investing now to support the youth of tomorrow.