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Thought for Food Global Summit 2013 and the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services Annual Meeting 2013

In March of 2013, young professionals in agriculture, Mr. Luke Smith, Ms. Donna Marie Moon-Sammy, Mr. Alpha Sennon, Mr. Stephan Monsamy and Mr. Keron Bascombe entered the Thought for Food Global Competition for university students to tackle the world’s food issues. As a result Mr. Sennon, Mr. Smith and Mr. Bascombe attended the Thought for Food Global Summit held in Berlin, Germany on September 20th - 22nd. In addition Mr. Sennon and Mr. Bascombe applied and were hand-selected to attend the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services Annual Meeting held September 23rd – 26th also in the city of Berlin, Germany.

Through diligence and hard work, these individuals were able to secure much needed financial support from the Head of the Office of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Dr. Selby Nichols and the Dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Issac Bekele of the University of the West Indies (UWI). This blog details the activities of the event.

The Conferences

Thought for Food Global Summit

With world population projected to reach 9 billion people by 2050 food consumption is expected to double. How will we be able to solve the challenge of creating a sustainable, thriving world? This was the premise of the Thought for Food Summit as participants joined in dialogue. The summit centred entirely on young people, the future solvers of world issues, with 97% of the attendees under 35 years.

Emphasis was placed on idea sharing, thinking outside of the box, starting a movement, networking  and much more all geared towards uprooting the status quo as it relates to hunger, obesity, global food systems and food security. The young professional team was able to meet with and learn immensely from experts and real world practitioners in agriculture, innovation, entrepreneurship, venture capital, public policy, and food science of the future.

Although the team were part of the Thought for Food competition, they were not finalists. Regardless all participants were invited to the summit in which finalist held live presentations to pitch their problem solving, business oriented ideas to a live expert panel and to the summit participants. It should be noted that the young professionals’ team from UWI were the only participants from the caribbean with fellow young entrepreneurs coming from Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States of America, China, Belgium, Brussels, India, Germany and parts of Africa.

Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services

The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) is an international organization that provides a space for advocacy and leadership on pluralistic, demand-driven advisory services. UWI’s own Dr. David Dolly is a part of the organisation and a major contributor of the Caribbean perspective for rural advisory service (extension services)

Members of young professional team were selected by the conference organizers to attend the event and to contribute to thematic exchange on rural advisory services (RAS). It gave participants the opportunity to discuss GFRAS strategic directions and functioning. Exchange and learning took place in plenary and parallel sessions, group discussions, a share fair and a number of field trips.

The objectives of the 4th GFRAS Annual Meeting are:

  • Understand and agree on the role of private sector and producer organisations in RAS
  • Strengthen RAS networks in mobilising human and financial resources and planning and implementing networking
  • Update participants on progress in GFRAS

Apart from participation at the GFRAS conference, the experience provided was an excellent learning opportunity for Mr. Sennon who has recently begun reading for an Mphil in Agricultural Extension. Additionally Mr. Bascombe volunteered and assisted the GFRAS communication team with its online social media activity in order to engage participants’ offsite. The young professionals’ team also had the pleasure of meeting with mentors, Dr. David Dolly and Mr. Jethro Green of the Caribbean Farmers Network (a member organization of GFRAS) who sat on the opening panel for event.

Participants and their work

The purpose of the trip was geared toward the development of the participants, up and coming young professionals that seek to transform the face of agriculture in the Caribbean Region. Unfortunately Mr. Stephan Moonsammy and Mrs. Donna Marie Moonsammy could not attend due to personal reasons.

Alpha Sennon (pictured left) is an avid supporter of youth in agriculture, confident in his status as a farmer and food producer. Mr. Sennon has recently begun his studies at the graduate level in the fields of agricultural extension and local development. Along with fellow stakeholders he has started his own agribusiness: Agriworks4U. The business provides superior labour services within the local agricultural industry on a contractual basis to new and existing farmers. It recruits young person, empowering them to have a more active role in field.

Keron Bascombe (pictured right) is an agricultural blogger and freelance writer, pursuing a career in agricultural journalism and communications. Mr. Bascombe has had a number of experiences in the international agricultural diaspora, functioning as a social reporter, writer and consult within networks of young professionals in agriculture. He has transformed his passion into the award winning blog Technology4agri. He now seeks to re-establish the platform into a social enterprise for ICT development in the sector.

Luke Smith (pictured right) is a photographer, graphic designer and videographer in the field of agriculture. In the past year and a half he has improved his skills in media production and his dedicated to the development of local agriculture. Recently Mr. Smith has started a blog, LukeSmithtv in which he chronicles his experiences and exploits in the field while simultaneously providing consultancy services.

The team would like to sincerely thank Dr. Selby Nichols and Dr. Issac Bekele without whom the trip would not have been successful. As dedicated agriyouth, committed to the future of agricultural development both locally and in the Caribbean region we look forward to working with you, the stakeholder to ensure the overall improvement of the sector and our fellow colleagues.

Keron Bascombe is the YPARD Country representative for Trinidad and Tobago and blogs at Technology4Agri.