There was a time when people were scared that there wouldn’t be enough food to feed the hungry mouths in the world. It took an estimate 100 years for the world population to double from 1 billion in around 1800 to 2 billion in 1900. Despite the two world wars, it is estimated that that world population is 8 billion in 2021. This fear was reverted by the Green Revolution that saw an industrial revolution with fertilizers, pesticides and other technological farming methods that made large scale farming possible.
These chemicals usage came at a great cost as they had adverse effects on the environment. Feeding the world now is an even bigger challenge as climate change has caused unpredictable weather patterns causing everything from floods to droughts. The challenge now is not just to feed the world but to provide nutritious food that takes into consideration the health of both humans and the planet. These were some of the issues highlighted at the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum (EYF) as the young participants stressed on working towards more equitable food systems. Ergo, the theme for International Youth Day 2021 is Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.
Considering the theme, CREASION and VFC organized Green Empower+: Advocacy, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Activism for food systems. Though Empower+ traditionally empowered young people by providing them with the necessary skills, this session focused more on enticing young people to take up agriculture so that youths can come up with innovative ways of transforming the existing food systems. For this, we had some exemplary youths in various fields of agriculture to let us know about their initiatives and how they are approaching agriculture.
Our first speaker Sagarika Bhatta, founder and chairperson at ERST We Care Nepal and Powershift Nepal, explained the food system that consist of different phases from production, processing, transportation, retailing and to consumer, and how food systems have gone from self-sustaining to becoming less sustainable. She further emphasized the role for youth to demand and advocate for change in food systems to influence policies and bring innovative solutions while telling about her rooftop-farming initiative.
Zachary Barton practices and teaches permaculture in Nepal with Almost Heaven Farms in Illam and he let us know about his ambitions of living and at the same time going beyond sustainability. With AHF, he supports farming communities to move towards agroecology to restore soil, water and ecological health. He let us know the principles of permaculture that goes hand-in-hand with ecology and not against nature.
Haushala Gurung Thapa presented on Food Memory Education, highligthing the importance menory plays in education children. While understanding soil and involving an eduaction process that includes the combination science, growing food and education, she empahsized how memories and upbringing are important part of education. It was delightful to learn about how she upbrings her kids to live sustainabily while learning about farming.
With further elaboraton by our speakers regarding agriculture, the program concluded with our final speaker Pramisha Thapaliya exloring the UN Food Systems Summit and the explaining the priorities of youth for better food future.