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Youth in agriculture: The Serbian story

We all know that young people can bring so much to agriculture with hard work, knowledge and innovation.

Young farmers help agriculture directly, but, did you know there are so many ways the youth can help to create better local food production indirectly?

Many young people are considering farming as their future working place, however, some of them lack the know-how about things such as; where to find resources, how to crop or where to sell products are. 

However, there is good news for these young agriculture enthusiasts as they are many organizations that can help! First of all, there is YPARD (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development), a movement of young people all around the world helping young farmers directly, and also helping local and world agriculture indirectly. There are many other organizations, movements and associations, which help young people to contribute to agricultural progress. For now, just two in Serbia; “Serbian association of young farmers” and “Network of young farmers in Serbia”.

With the support of the Serbian ministry of agriculture, “Network of young farmers in Serbia” MMPS (Mreža mladih poljoprivrednika Srbije) is promoting youth entrepreneurship in agriculture, helping in market access and education of future young farmers. Many young farmers showed interest in IPARD (Instrument for Pre-Accession in Rural Development) funding, so this organization provides support in special knowledge by business consulting and administrative support.

In the end of last year, they organized a workshop on how to write a business plan, how to apply for IPARD funds or start an agricultural business. They are also connecting young farmers with companies where they can have practice and acquire practical knowledge. On the other side, the non-government Serbian association of young farmers SUMP (Srpsko udruženje mladih poljoprivrednika) created three years ago helps young people by showing them how to use their land best, how to apply for foundations grants, also how to apply for government and European subsidies.

This association guided by young students offers their members possibility to have practice on some farms in EU so they can see different ways of farming with new technologies. Serbian association of young farmers as the member of CEJA (Conseil Européen des Jeunes Agriculteurs) helps young farmers from Serbia to be closer to ideas and goals of European farmers. They are also dedicated to making easier access to the market for young people by introducing a label “young farmer’s product” which is yet to be approved by the government.

Talking about the market, there is an organization from Northeast of India – Zizira. This team is actually a team of explorers dedicated to discovering how to re lease the potential of small family farms of Northeast India. They are pioneering a food business known for sourcing unique and healthy produce from the traditional farmers of Northeast India.

This team gathers mostly young people who want to create access to market and introduce to customers across India natural and healthy products. As they like to say, they ‘are not specifically focused on promoting organic farming, but mostly promoting responsible farming’. To help more small farmers they have recently created a niche social platform known as Friends of Zizira where farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and scientists can share and contribute ideas about the horticultural and agricultural produce of Northeast India. The main objective is to see how farmers of this region can benefit.

There are many more organizations and associations government or non-government, profit or non-profit on every continent and in every country like National young farmers coalition in the United States,  The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, Conseil Européen des Jeunes Agriculteurs and others. Every one of them offers a different kind of help in educations, training, affairs traveling tours for young farmers, but they all have the same purpose – making agriculture sustainable for young people.

 

Picture credits: 1) SUMP, 2) MMPS & 3) Zizira