Finding new farmers

| November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

The global agriculture sector needs serious support, say advocacy organisations such as Food Tank, based in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States (US). The world’s most far-flung subsistence farmers battle soil erosion and drought and are in dire need of new lifesaving technologies and the skills to use them. But in developed areas like the United Kingdom (UK) – where the average age of farmers is 58 years and climbing – the tradition of maintaining the family farm is literally dying out.

Food Tank reports that all sorts of media are coming to the rescue around the world to ignite passion for farming in young people.

In the UK, Channel 4 apparently has millions of young fans glued to reality show First Time Farmers, billed as “[a documentation of ] a new generation of farmers… breathing life into the agricultural world, balancing hard work with finding time for love, laughter, and partying”. In Kenya, 11 million viewers are tuning in to Shamba (‘farm’ in Swahili) Shake-Up, described as “Extreme Makeover: farm edition”. In each episode, experts from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) visit farms, giving both farmers and viewers the tools they need to improve productivity and increase income on their farms.

In the US, online short films combine agricultural and environmental education. Farmed and Dangerous aims to make people think about the origins of their food. The Meatrix, which long since went viral in more than 30 languages, starred an animated pig that learned that today, most meats come from animals confined in warehouses, rather than from animals who once frolicked around family farms.

In other countries, radio reaches the furthest. Last year saw the end of the popular soap opera Hanh Trinh Xanh, a Vietnamese/Danish collaboration featuring four families living in different parts of Vietnam and adapting their agricultural practices to climate change. Listeners were encouraged to text characters advice on their mobiles after each episode. In the farming district of Atebubu-Amantin in Ghana, as in other parts of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, radio networks connect farmers with experts to assist with specific problems.

In ever-inventive Japan, reports Food Tank, young people are crazy about a new graphic comic series. The popular Silver Spoon comic series takes place at an agricultural high school in Hokkaido and features a cast of aspiring farmers who make sake. The series has sold 15 million copies over the past three years, making it one of Japan’s most successful comics, and it was also recently released as a feature film.

And in France and the US, musicians like DJ Cavem, Paul Diaz and La Ferme Musicale are rapping about the importance of agricultural sustainability as a way to get youngsters interested in the future of food.

Category: Summer 2014

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