How one organization is working to change agriculture

Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) is an organization that is working to change global food systems. Marina Cherbonnier, the web and communications manager at YPARD, sat down for an an interview with Food Tank.

Courtesy of One Acre Fund
Leunisia Lunyungu, a One Acre Fund farmer in Tanzania, sits happily in her growing maize field. With increased access to quality seed and fertilizer, along with financing and agriculture trainings, farmers can boost their productivity and end hunger in their homes, Hong says.

Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) identifies as an international movement and network of young professionals for young professionals, for agricultural development. YPARD emphasizes the importance of youth-to-youth empowerment, which manifests in its organizational structure. The organization provides a platform for information sharing and dissemination, as well as online and offline meetings and events.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Marina Cherbonnier, web and communications manager, at YPARD.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Marina Cherbonnier (MC): YPARD is engaging young professionals across the agricultural sector to discuss and share information and thoughts about the future they want and the role they (want to) undertake towards sustainable livelihoods without depleting our environment. At the heart of YPARD are its members, who are encouraged to take an active role and to initiate activities relevant to young professionals in their local context. Indeed, there is no sustainable future without the full engagement of the new generation.

FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of?

MC: The CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) are major activities in the international agricultural sector, yet have little focus on youth or next generation engagement. YPARD has been actively pursuing discussions with CRP leaders and the Consortium to raise the profile of youth engagement and look for tangible activities on the ground. YPARD was invited to key meetings to provide its input to strategies. A YPARD staff member and the Steering Committee (SC) Chair were invited and funded by the consortium office to do a presentation at the CRP leaders meeting in Montpellier, France on how YPARD can work with the CRPs. YPARD contributed to the Dryland Systems youth strategy development, the first among the CRPs. YPARD also provided input in the CGIAR capacity development strategy and the Strategic Results Framework. We are further preparing more advocacy and planning in the next year, for greater representation of youth as both beneficiaries of and part of planning and development in the CRPs.

FT: What are your goals for this year and beyond?

MC: Our key focus for 2015 is to launch and build a steady ground for the YPARD mentoring program. We are also working on strengthening our regional representations and capacity development of YPARD representatives as national youth leaders. We will continue to  generate more opportunities, information, networking, and value for our members.

FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?

MC: Eaters and consumers need to understand the value of farmers’ work and fully recognize their profession.

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

MC: Young professionals and their supporters are encouraged to register on the website and to join us on social media. Write your story, a blog post, or shoot a short video, apply for an opportunity, or get involved with our national teams for better positioning of young people in their national agricultural context.

This article first appeared on Food Tank

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.