The Orange Talk: Empowering youth to contribute and innovate for sustainable agriculture and food systems in Southeast Asia and Bangladesh

Neso Offices in Indonesia and Vietnam, in collaboration with Nuffic, organised the Virtual Orange Talk on “Youth-led Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in Southeast Asia and Bangladesh”, which is part of the one-year #EmpowerYouth4Food campaign to increase youth engagement in agriculture. More than 160 participants from all over the region attended this very special edition of the Orange Talk to celebrate International Youth Day 2021.

The Orange Talk

H.E. Harvick Hasnul Qolbi, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia, underlined in his keynote: “There are two strategies to increase the attractiveness of the agriculture sector among youth. First, ensuring adequate income for farmers. Second, is trust. How we can convince youth that the state is present to support their efforts, for example, by holding various extensions and modernizing agricultural equipment.”

Mr. Takayuki Hagiwara, Regional Programme Leader, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, stated that there many areas where young people can find their roles to play in agriculture sector and food system. “We need your innovations, and there are a lot of spaces where young people can contribute and work.” Furthermore, Mr. Hagiwara stressed the importance of relationship with others. “You alone cannot survive, you have to work with people skills more than anything”. He then added “If you want to maximise your gain just for yourself, the world will not give you a long-term favour. Dynamic private sector, innovation, and how you are working with other people would bring a good result.”

A panel session joined by young agri-food professionals, who are also the NL alumni, from the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, stimulated discussion on challenges and opportunities for youth in the agriculture sector in Southeast Asia and Bangladesh. The speakers reflected on their personal experience working in the sector, and shared insights on what kind of support needed by youth to take their innovative ideas in agriculture to the next level.

The Orange Talk 2

Emily Thuy (Vietnam) said that the perceived image makes entry barrier to agriculture quite high, thus raising awareness is a great way to lowering the barrier. There are many different things in agriculture that young people can pursue. 

Widyoseno Estitoyo (Indonesia) who is an entrepreneur shared his experience in developing his business. Indonesia, many people see local product as a ‘second class’ product. His challenge is to educate the market about why we should be proud of local product. His message to youth is to “find your cup of tea in the agriculture sector and focus on it”.

Ra Throng (Cambodia) echoed this statement and suggested to enhance market access for local product. SME needs to be supported to improve the quality and safety of local product, and this where youth can play a role to participate in the sector.

Lysette Lacambra (Philippines) emphasized the importance of providing an avenue for youth to networking to increase youth engagement. Private sector or likeminded institutions can create opportunities for students through internship programs.

Dr Md Arif Rahman (Bangladesh) suggested higher education particularly in agriculture should be market-driven with a twelve-month internship program under a commercial farm, this way youth can be more proactive and choose entrepreneurship. He added “think globally, but act locally”, use local-based knowledge as innovation through public-private partnerships.

Following the panel discussion, Douwe Zijp, CEO of East-West Seed and Emily Thuy, Strategic Marketing Manager Vietnam and Cambodia of De Heus, announced three winners of the Changemaker Challenge as one of the building blocks of the Empower Youth4Food Campaign. More than 200 students and 50 NL alumni from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand participated in the Changemaker Challenge. The winners of the Changemaker Challenge will each receive EUR 5,000 to turn their innovative ideas for a sustainable agri-food value chain into reality. Rice to Rise (Philippines), E-Chick (Indonesia), and Community Garden (Indonesia) showcased their winning ideas to the audience through a one-minute video pitch. These projects will be implemented starting in September.

Join the Empower Youth4Food campaign by sharing our messages on social media using #EmpowerYouth4Food to help bring awareness to increase youth engagement in agriculture and food systems.

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