As highlighted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, "Increasing youth unemployment against the backdrop of high population growth is a major challenge for many countries... The importance of empowering youth to invest and benefit from responsible investments in agriculture is increasingly recognized at national, regional, and global levels."
The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) is pushing to change the labor-intensive perception of farming and showcase agricultural careers as an attractive option for youth. With specialties such as agronomy, crop science, agribusiness, agro-engineering, agro-processing and agricultural education, agriculture has evolved into an expansive and exciting field in recent decades. Effectively, an agriculture-centered life has taken on new meaning, and there is a need to expose youth to the vast opportunities within the field. More than ever before, these careers and professionals are necessary in order for farmers in developing nations to not only compete in the market, but to find a way to sustainably feed an exponentially growing population.
ASMC works with 4-H Illinois and plans to use the Positive Youth Development approach to guide its youth integration efforts in Asia and West Africa. In both Hubs, we aim to address the potential for youth to become early adopters and participate in entrepreneurial activities by training rural youth to operate service provision business as operators, mechanics, marketers, or as machinery owners. We aim to accomplish this through entrepreneurship training and capacity building following principles of 4-H curricula of leadership and entrepreneurship. In both innovation Hubs we will engage with university level students to pursue technical education, conduct research in ASMC areas and develop professional capacity to pursue post-graduate careers in agricultural mechanization.
Asia Innovation Hub
In partnership with CE SAIN, will build on the Aggie Technology Park model that has been successful in Cambodia, to integrate school aged students in working on school gardens, learning about natural resource management through trainings, and latest mechanized tools and technologies.
Train youth to be service providers providing mechanization services for a fee. Youth will receive entrepreneurship training, ability to procure machinery, and necessary skills and mentorship to start businesses. Youth will include both men and women under 30 years of age.
West Africa Innovation Hub
Work with unions and cooperatives to specifically include rural youth as members, and participate in mechanization dissemination and adoption with focus on business training, peer network, and access to capital.
Train youth with skills to be mechanics, operators and fabricators.