As part of the upcoming World Bank Open Forum on the food crisis, we have been asking everyone for ideas on how to put food first for the almost 1 billion people who go to bed hungry today.
A lot of the solutions offered center around increasing agriculture productivity, improving distribution networks, and making sure we don’t waste food.
But one of the ideas on the World Bank facebook page made me pause. Julius Ayi wrote: “I believe governments must also encourage youth to work in agriculture.”
Now that is hardly something you hear every day. Taking up farming as a profession has rarely captured the imaginations of upwardly mobile young people whose dreams and search for opportunities takes them to mostly white-collar professions, mainly in cities.
In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard any of my peers aspire to farming, except when they are feeling exceptionally frustrated.
Which is why the story of two young “urban mushroom farmers” from Berkeley, California is so surprising. Alejandro and Nikhil graduated from university with business degrees, and went on to grow gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. You can hear them talk about their journey here.
While they are accidental farmers, they met quick success, innovating with new products such as grow-your-own mushroom kits and figuring new ways to use the waste generated in their farming process. Their story shows how young ideas can help reshape something as old as agriculture - making it not only profitable, but also cool.
With food security as big a problem as it is today, does agriculture deserve more of our youthful energies and innovation? Do you have a story of young people taking up farming as a profession, by choice? What kind of incentives would make it worth their while? Do share...
Photo: Back to the Roots Ventures