Money or Food: What Will Youth Choose?

This morning, the exhaustion really hit me hard. I missed my alarm, and when I did wake up about half an hour later it was struggle to get out of bed. Luckily, a quick breakfast on the subway over to COP kept me on schedule.

The first conference that I wanted to attend was called Nature Based Solutions to an Uncertain Future. I assumed that this was going to be about ways that we can use nature and our environment to solve the issue of climate change. The moderator had a great presentation about how we can use rivers in efforts to develop nations as opposed to fossil fuels like coal. Unfortunately, after this 12 panelists got up to talk solely about finance and green bonds. I didn’t understand how it related to the topic and did not understand what was being discussed at all. I decided to leave early and head to a discussion called Youth Engagement in Climate.

Again, this was not at all what I was expecting but I still found it extremely interesting and informative. All of the speakers were from countries across Africa, discussing a youth program that works to get kids involved in farming. By 2050, the population of Africa will double, requiring significantly more agriculture to sustain the population. The issue is that kids want to move to the cities to make more money.

So, this program called CSAYN is working hard to improve the quality of life for farmers in order to encourage them not move to cities while maintaining sustainability. They have recently bred a new strain of corn that is much less susceptible to drought. On top of that, they have introduced new species of goat and sheep that can survive without much water. These solutions have helped current farmers, but it doesn’t change the fact that kids can still make more money if they go to the cities. This is because most of the crops grown, like corn, only grow for a portion of the year so the other portion of the year, they’re unemployed. This is why CSAYN is teaching kids beekeeping, as well as how to grow plants that grow all year like mango and papaya. The kids are also taught more efficient irrigation so they can sell higher quality products, making more money. There is still lots of work to do if they plan on doubling their production in a declining industry, but it’s certainly a start.

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