The EU-STREIT PNG Programme in collaboration with rural youths and students in the Greater Sepik region marked the International Youth Day 2022 (IYD) with a message for all to become innovative and take part in all nodes along the agri-food value chains, including areas supported under the Programme.
Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the EU-STREIT Programme organised two events this year in East Sepik and West Sepik Provinces, bringing together 1,781 youths in total.
These youths were briefed, sensitized, and made aware through engaging interactions, including motivational speeches, cocoa competitions, student debates, contemporary group dances, drama role plays, march pass and collective chanting, in a bid to promote this year’s theme of IYD: ‘Intergenerational solidarity, creating a world for all ages”.
IYD is commemorated every year on 12 August, bringing youth issues to the attention of the international, national, and local communities, while celebrating their potential as partners in today’s global society.
Explaining this year’s theme, Ms Patu Shang, the FAO International Gender and Youth Inclusion Specialist, on behalf of the Programme Coordinator, called on the elders and parents as well as authorities to provide an enabling environment for youths to excel and take over.
“It means mainstreaming young people’s perspectives and we have to come together as one from all ages. Therefore in everything we do, we must sit together and include youths in solidarity so they can tell us their perspectives.”
Ms Shang also challenged the youths particularly those from rural areas to become innovative and take part in agribusiness. “Don’t just sit back and observe because the world will pass you by.”
She added: “EU-STREIT PNG is supporting a holistic approach to develop cocoa, vanilla and fisheries activities so every young person can find his/her place in any node along the agri-food value chains and with the advantage of technology they can develop a particular value chain either as a farmer, or input supplier, or take part in processing and marketing.”
These overarching and inspirational messages where shared in the two celebrations held in Yangoru-Saussia District of East Sepik Province, on Thursday 4 August and in Vanimo, Sandaun Province, on Wednesday 17 August.
The youth were also urged to participate and become an integral part of the European Union funded rural agriculture development programme, as well as to appreciate and subsequently take up “Agriculture as a Profession”, thereby curbing rural youth exodus and striving towards Zero Hunger by 2030 through the development of agri-food value chains.
The commemoration in Vanimo started with a march pass in solidarity with youths and students from Don Bosco Technical Secondary and Vanimo Secondary, chanting and singing a popular line “ooh when the youths go marching in …”.
In addition, present to give their speeches were the Deputy Provincial Administration for Cooperate Services and Director for Community Development, representing the Sandaun Provincial Administrator, as well as the Vanimo Royal PNG Constabulary Commander.
After the official speeches, the youths went over to Don Bosco Technical Secondary to promote agriculture as a professional career with a cocoa bud grafting competition.
A debate on the topic “is agriculture only for the poor and elderly” was organised as well between students from the two schools.
The celebrations in Yangoru-Saussia District of East Sepik Province was held in Baimuru Village and organised jointly with the “Baimuru Heights Youths in Agri-business Group” whose common interest lies in cocoa value chain activities.
The day started with a march pass by youths carrying placards and chanting and soliciting community support in their quest to make a change in the community and the country through agribusiness.
It was an exciting and fun day for the youths in Baimuru Village with the support of the parents and elders to execute the day’s activities like choral music, dances and three role-plays showcasing challenges that rural farmers face like low prices for cocoa and vanilla beans and awareness on child labour.
A successful female and male youth (community Campions) who have taken on agriculture as a profession also shared their success stories. The rest of the youthful population were encouraged to see the opportunities that exist agribusiness.
To encorage the youths to their agriculture work, cocoa and vanilla cultivation and processing tools/materials and items like secateurs, pruning saws, wheelbarrows, cooler box/Esky, strainer, thick cloth/blanket and Digital thermometers were presented to three youth groups that supported and participated in the celebrations.