The Role of Youth in Rural Advisory Services to Support Sustainable Agriculture

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Why should agriculture be sustainable?

Currently, the agricultural system must be able to keep pace with the increasing food needs of the population. Traditional farming systems in developing countries have shifted to conventional farming systems which are also known as modern agriculture. The conventional farming system is an intensive farming system that focuses on one particular type of crop by utilizing technological innovation and the use of high external inputs to obtain higher output in a relatively short time. Behind the development of this strategy, it is undeniable that it can have a negative impact for the environment. The widespread use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and the intensive exploitation of land in long-term agricultural systems can have consequences for environmental damage.

The dynamics that occur ultimately require a concept of sustainable agriculture. To be sustainable, an agricultural system must be able to fulfill basic principles based on the three basics of sustainable development, consisting of economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Sustainable agriculture in the economic and ecological aspects must be able to improve soil management and crop rotation, so that agricultural production can be maintained while remaining the management of natural resources wisely. On the social aspect, agriculture must provide a solution to the problem of unemployment because it can absorb more labor than conventional farming systems that prioritize the role of technology. Many of the unemployed are youths of productive age. In fact, currently the interest and contribution of youth in the agricultural sector is decreasing due to the view that income in the non-agricultural sector is more promising.

So, how can youth contribute to sustainable agriculture?

Youth can contribute to supporting sustainable agriculture through research focused on integrated pest control with natural ingredients, soil conservation, and water quality management and crop cover. In the informal sector, youth can also be active in activities and forums in the agricultural sector. This can be a forum for exchanging ideas with other youths to create solutions for the implementation of sustainable agriculture. In addition, youth can be actively involved in making farmer empowerment programs that focus on sustainable agriculture. This can be a forum for farmers to be fostered and guided regarding the implementation of sustainable agricultural systems. With some of these activities, youth will be increasingly aware about the importance of sustainable agriculture and be able to contribute for the sustainability of agricultural systems in developing countries. Therefore, RASSEA as a rural consultancy service forum strongly supports youth in agricultural development in the future.

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