Three young delegates, who represented the UK at the recent Youth Ag-Summit in Brussels, presented the outcomes of the Summit in Parliament to an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture meeting.
Emily Davis, Luke Blomfield and Luca Steel, along with Alice Turnbull from the Youth Ag-Summit sponsors Bayer Crop Science, shared with the APPG and diverse industry audience their experiences from the Summit, which challenged 100 young people from across the world to consider tangible solutions to feeding a hungry planet, framed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
During the Summit, the delegates were split into teams of 10 and challenged to identify projects that would help solve a particular Sustainable Development Goal. At the end of the Summit each pitched a “Thrive for Change” project with the top three projects gaining funding from Bayer to help get the idea off the ground, Miss Turnbull explained.
In addition, each of the delegates was asked to commit to “3 Little Things” that they would do to further the aims of the Summit when they returned home. For the UK delegates these included a commitment to reducing food waste, travelling to different countries to learn more about edible insects, and finding ways to improve the way in which the agricultural industry communicates career opportunities.
The latter provoked debate at the APPG meeting after Miss Steel explained that agriculture was seldom mentioned by her career advisers. “Studying Biology at university meant that often the only career you are asked to consider is medicine or other aspects of human health, why can’t we talk about agronomy or plant science?” she asked.
“It was only five months ago, two years in to my degree and through an extracurricular summer school that I learned what Agronomy was.”
Miss Davis shared one of her highlights from the Summit, which suggested that agriculture could appeal better to young people through the use of the acronym PERFECT, highlighting the variety of careers on offer in the industry. “How can we expect to recruit young people into the industry if they don’t know the careers exist? We need a PR department!”
But showcasing examples of where agriculture has communicated successfully and changed consumer attitudes toward supporting farmers would be a good start, she said.
Mr Blomfield suggested we could learn from other industries. “Seeking inspiration from outside the industry and learning from successful entrepreneurs has helped me in my drive to develop a business around edible insects. Taking a leap of faith can ultimately pay off,” he suggested.
That was exactly what each of these three young agricultural visionaries did when applying for the Youth Ag-Summit, Miss Turnbull said. “This was a great opportunity for all of them to develop their skills and ideas, and create a network of contacts that will last a lifetime. Having the chance to present the outcomes of the Summit and challenge the industry to help communicate better about the opportunities for young people is just one more step in their development as young leaders in our industry.”