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Can We Turn "Generation Yum" into "Generation Ag"?

19:00 EST 21 Feb 2017 | Meridian Institute

In this commentary, Robert Hunter and Yvonne Harz-Pitre, co-chairs of Farming First, write that millennials (those aged between 18 and 30) are hungry for change. Their choices and opinions, they say, will have a huge influence on future trends, particularly food. Young people in the developed world, dubbed “Generation Yum” by author Eve Turow, care more about the quality, nutritional value and provenance of their food than previous generations. But, the authors ask, “can the agricultural community encourage this powerful cohort not only to care about food, but to actually shape its future by taking up careers in agriculture?” Hunter and Harz-Pitre not only believe it is possible, but that it is essential. The first step, they say, is to shake off the stereotype that agriculture is just for aging farmers. Instead, they write, we need to tell the story of people like Victor Talen, a food scientist at HarvestPlus, who is helping develop more nutritious crops to combat malnutrition. The situation is similar in the developing world, where there is also an opportunity to involve young people in the agriculture sector. But we must communicate to young people that agriculture is a lucrative business opportunity, they say. “70% of Africans are farmers,” says Kinyua M’Mijjewe, the head of Corporate Affairs AME at Syngenta. “All of them want to become better farmers; all of them need services, so there is huge opportunity to serve them.” Tapping into youth’s passion for technology is another way to entice young people to work in agriculture. “The opportunities in agriculture have never been greater, or more diverse,” conclude Hunter and Harz-Pitre. “Our future food system is in the hands of the young—let us ensure they are empowered and equipped to make it fit for the next generation.”

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