Closing the gender gap and increasing youth participation in agriculture

CHICAGO, IL – CHICAGO, IL – Food Tank: The Food Think Tank and The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) are excited to announce they will be collaborating this year around the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). The goal of this partnership is to tackle the complexities surrounding the global food crisis while offering innovative and tangible solutions. Food Tank and GFAR will showcase and raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders as well as help identify ways to support family farmers.

The focus will be ways in which organizations, businesses, governments, and other stakeholders around the world are empowering women and youth and strengthening their role in agriculture. Food Tank and GFAR will publish research, weekly articles, opinion editorials, column articles, newsletters, social media campaigns, infographics, and videos.

According to GFAR, 2.5 billion people depend on agriculture. And globally, the average age of farmers is around 55 years—in Europe, one-third of farmers are under 35 and in the United States 50 percent of farmers are 55 years or older.

It’s time to cultivate the next generation of food system leaders—young farmers, agricultural entrepreneurs, agronomists, extension agents and educators, researchers and scientists, and policy-makers who can create a more sustainable food system.

“Increased access to education means that young people can be a force for innovation on family farms, increasing incomes and well-being for not only farmers, but also local communities. Young people can develop the agricultural sector by applying new technologies to current work methods,” says Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary of GFAR.

In addition, women comprise 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, according to the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). But they often face discrimination and lack access to resources, financial services, inputs, and education.

“This gender inequality comes at a huge cost, not just for women, but society as a whole. Discrimination against women can undermine economic development by limiting food security for families and preventing women and girls from achieving greater opportunities in education. In addition, many agricultural research and development programs ignore the needs and hopes of women farmers,” said Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank.

GFAR provides an open forum for stakeholders across the agricultural spectrum—from researchers and organizations to farmers—to participate in collaborative discussion and action around the current and future state of agriculture. Food Tank helps to reframe the current policy conversation about the global food system through public education, convening and events, aggregation and dissemination of current research and innovation, and execution of new, independent research. Jointly, during 2014, these organizations will strengthen and transform the role of women and youth in agriculture around the world.

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