Within the scope of Nicole Sloot's internship and project, which concerns product and service development for youth participation at cooperatives and farmer's organisations, she got the opportunity to go to Zambia and join the Youth Agriculture Event on the 1st and 2nd of September. Together with Iris Bouwers, international representative of NAJK, she travelled from Amsterdam to Lusaka on the 29th of August.
'In China, we eat everything with 2 legs, except people. We eat everything with 4 legs, except tables. We eat everything that flies, except aeroplanes and we eat everything in the water, except submarines.'
During the Youth Agriculture Event that took place in Zambia on the 1st and 2nd of September, this saying was shared by means of illustrating that you can see opportunities and value in everything that is around you.
On the first day, the Youth Agriculture Event got kicked off with the national anthem of Zambia and thereafter, a prayer was held. Both I did not expect to happen; nonetheless, it was very impressive. On the second day of the event, Marnix Sanderse, Agriterra’s business advisor in Zambia, and I gave a presentation on Agriterra and more specifically on youth participation at cooperatives. On both days, the event was filled with inspiring speeches, interesting conversations and fruitful discussions. Moreover, I was very glad to see that many people had taken the effort to fill out my questionnaire; a plus 75 percent response rate. It was striking to hear in conversations I had though, that a lot of young farmers struggle with a lack of technical skills and awareness of procedures, regulations and funds that are at hand.
The week after the event, Chabota joined us on our trip to the rural areas where we visited Agriterra's clients in Choma, Magoye and Mumbwa. We had meetings with young farmers, where we talked about youth participation at cooperatives. The overall response was very positive, so I decided to take it one step further. I asked the attendants to come up with more specific ideas about the implementation of a youth council. What criteria would they want to adopt for members to become part of the council, which specific issues would they want to address through a youth council and how many people should the council consist of? Thanks to Chabota, who translated all of my questions to the local language, everyone was able to participate in the discussion. I collected lots of information and got the impression that the majority of young farmers has clear ideas on how to structure a youth council. Last but not least, I asked the attendants what kind of support they would need from Agriterra when setting up a youth council. The answers mainly concerned trainings on the coordination of a youth council and providing advice on the possibilities at hand when setting it up, such as how to divide responsibilities and roles, the formulation of mandates and capacity building amongst youth. Moreover, suggestions included business trainings on negotiating, lobbying and advocacy.
I have experienced the event and the meetings as very successful; thanks to all participants, Marnix, Chabota and Iris. One week ago, I returned back home; mixed feelings because I wish I could have stayed a little longer, but full of energy and I feel that getting acquainted with the Agriterra way of working has helped me to get the right focus for my project. This has been a great opportunity for me and the same goes for Zambia. There are lots of opportunities at hand, so let's exploit them!