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Minister Mustapha urges regional measures to involve youths in agriculture

The 37th session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean is ongoing in Ecuador and Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha was elected to serve as Vice Chairman.

On the first day of the event on Monday, the Minister said there need to be more measures in place regionally to actively involve youths in agriculture. This he said is the key to preserving the sector.

“As a body, and as countries in the region that are addressing hunger and trying to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to ensure that we take action that will preserve this very, very important sector…When you look around the region, I think this is a general fact; when you look around the region you find mostly middle-aged and senior citizens are involved in agriculture. Let us ask ourselves “what are we doing to involve our young people in the agriculture sector?” the minister noted.

The Minister said many young people who would’ve graduated in various agricultural courses from the universities either find related jobs to be labour-intensive or suited for school dropouts and older persons. To solve this issue, he noted that there need to be more opportunities in agricultural research. Minister Mustapha alluded to the recent programme launched by President Dr. Irfaan Ali called the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme.

“These are the opportunities that we are giving the young people now to take that slot to provide that kind of food security for the country and at the same time reduce the food import bill of the country and the region. So when we are talking about opportunities, these are the efforts we have to ensure are replicated across the region,” the minister said.

The FAO Regional Conference is held from March 28 to April 1, 2022, and serves as a moment in which member countries will define the regional priorities to adapt and localise the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031 to the conditions of Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the Regional Conference, the countries will analyse the work done by FAO in the previous two years in the region and agree on recommendations for initiatives and priorities that will guide the Organisation’s work during the 2022-2023 period.

In addition, delegates will present and discuss outstanding innovations that countries are implementing.

During the first two days of the conference, meetings with high-level authorities will be held during which officials will be presenting and analysing the main results obtained by the FAO and Latin America and the Caribbean during the 2020 – 2021 biennium and also highlight priorities for the next biennium.

The following days are reserved for a series of ministerial meetings during which members will exchange their experiences and process these innovations that are underway in order to show how the region is overcoming the challenge of transforming its agri-food systems and the context of the reality of each country.

Additionally, there will be national-level consultations with countries and regional-level consultations with various stakeholders in order to identify areas of interest and emerging consensus in the region.