Empowering Youth in Agri-Food Innovation: Launch of World Food Forum Chapter

In a significant stride towards empowering Bhutan’s youth and fostering innovation in the agri-food sector, the World Food Forum (WFF), under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Bhutan, is set to launch its country chapter this June. This initiative aims to engage young minds in policy-making, enhance food education, and catalyze startups in agriculture and food production.

At the recent Bhutan Agri-Trade and Investment Forum, 20 enthusiastic youths registered to participate in the national chapter, signaling a promising start to this endeavor. Led by four national coordinators, the chapter will gradually expand its footprint across the country, reaching local communities and amplifying youth involvement in shaping the future of food systems.

Established in 2021, the WFF stands as a beacon of youth-led collaboration within the FAO’s global network. Tenzin, a chapter leader, emphasized the pivotal role of youth engagement at the grassroots level, envisioning a collective effort that fosters partnerships and drives sustainable practices in agriculture.

“For a climate-friendly agro-ecosystem, there is a need to shift towards circularity, smart technology, and efficient resource use,” Tenzin remarked, highlighting the imperative of innovation in tackling pressing agricultural challenges.

Sonam Lhamo, another chapter leader, recounted her enriching experience at WFF Asia Pacific conferences, where she actively contributed to projects aimed at raising awareness and instigating positive change in food systems. She stressed the importance of youth representation in global forums, underscoring its potential to inform and improve national policies.

Nawang Gyeltshen, echoing this sentiment, emphasized the transformative power of sustainable agriculture and the need for collaborative youth initiatives. “The team needs to create awareness about global discussions on the agri-food system,” Nawang remarked, highlighting the importance of bridging local practices with global discourse.

Ken Shimizu, the FAO representative for Bhutan and Nepal, underscored the multifaceted challenges facing the agriculture sector, ranging from climate change-induced water shortages to nutritional deficiencies exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized the critical role of youth-led initiatives in addressing these challenges and propelling Bhutan towards its development objectives.

The WFF Bhutan chapter, Shimizu noted, will serve as a platform for youth to actively participate in national discourses, offering innovative solutions and driving policy engagement in the agri-food sector.

Looking ahead, the collaboration between government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, FAO Bhutan, World Food Programme, Ministry of Education, and Health Ministry, will be pivotal in realizing the WFF’s objectives. By fostering collaboration across production, nutrition, and environmental sectors, these initiatives aim to catalyze a holistic transformation of Bhutan’s agrifood systems.

Amidst global challenges, the WFF’s theme for this year, “Good food for all, for today and tomorrow,” resonates deeply, underscoring the urgency of ensuring food security amidst a growing population. With millions around the world facing hunger, meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger by 2030 remains a pressing imperative, one that necessitates concerted efforts and innovative solutions.

As Bhutan strides towards a more sustainable and resilient future, initiatives like the WFF chapter serve as catalysts for change, empowering the nation’s youth to drive innovation, foster collaboration, and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow in the realm of agriculture and food production.

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