The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) Asia Pacific in collaboration with RASSEA (Rural Advisory Services in Southeast Asia) held a webinar in a series of Asia-Pacific Director Meeting activities on Monday, March 21st2022 via Zoom Meeting. This activity has the theme “Rethinking Youth-driven Innovation for enhancing Sustainable Agriculture in the New Normal Era”. On this occasion, Dr. Siti Amanah, Chair of the RASSEA presented a material entitled Youth Innovation and Sustainable Agriculture. This topic is very important because, in this era, it is very necessary to present an opportunity to increase interest in the agricultural sector, especially for youth.
Youth’s Innovation and Sustainable Agriculture
Agriculture is not only about sources of food, fuel, fiber, and forests. However, more holistically, it consists of environmental, political, socio-economic & business aspects. Management of agricultural resources is not only about the inputs provided but also about the management of human resources. The important things of human resources in agriculture is about actors who are responsible for managing agricultural land from the preparation stage to the production. The managers of agricultural resources are important to be regenerated in order to make agriculture develops and advances for future generations. Therefore, the agricultural sector requires the potential of youth who are able to contribute to agricultural problems in Indonesia.
In reality, agriculture in particular sustainable agriculture and food systems has its own challenges. The existence of aging in agriculture, land-use change and conversion occurs a lot and becomes a problem, so innovation and support system are really needed. One of them is through a structural and cultural approach. One of the most important is the approach by maximizing the role of youth. According to United Nations data via VVEF, the percentage of youth aged 10-24 years in 2050 will continue to decrease. This is certainly a challenge to be able to optimize the role of youth in the agricultural sector. Therefore, to be able to improve youth engagement and innovation, it is important to maximize the character potential, curiosity, tenacity, care & competencies of youth. This is very important to be able to build collaboration, systems, leadership and mobilization of resources. Millennial characters that are very important for are trusting, able to maintain connectivity, creative, and able to manage digital devices (IoT, social media). In addition, three skills need to be constantly developed, starting from hard skills, soft skills, and power skills. The most important skills are critical thinking, co-creation, communication, and collaboration. These skills are very supportive in implementing the Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) and creating Frugal Innovation in the midst of limitations.
The AIS framework recognizes innovation as an interactive process. Central to the process are the interactions of different actors and their ideas; the institutions (the attitudes, habits, rules, laws, norms, practices, and ways of working) that shape how individuals and organizations interact; and learning as a means of evolving new arrangements specific to local contexts. While interaction among the actors within the innovation system is critical for innovation, several institutional and policy barriers generally constrain effective collaboration and knowledge flows among these different actors (GFRAS 2015). Meanwhile, Frugal Innovation is an innovation to serve the needs of the lower classes of society by modifying existing resources, designing, and developing low-cost products, so product prices are more affordable. This of course can support the development of sustainable agriculture. Some examples of the role of youth in sustainable agriculture are creating a digital platform to assist farmers in marketing their products, as done by Sayurbox Indonesia, Uma Philippines, and Agrostar India.
At the end of the session participants asked questions to Mrs. Siti Amanah and discussed with each other, especially about the challenges and preparation of youth in contributing for sustainable agriculture.