Launched in November 2006, the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) has grown into a dynamic network of over 4,500 members in 117 different countries dedicated to the exchange of knowledge between youth and the participation in critical conversations in agricultural research for development. YPARD is a community by youth and for youth, fundamentally imagining “a more sustainable and innovative agricultural sector […] that truly incorporates the views of youth.”
Representatives, young professionals under forty, are the core of the YPARD organization. Professional supporters and mentors, members over forty, and partner organizations provide support and opportunities for young professionals. Partner organizations include Gender in Agriculture Partnership, International Youth Day 2012, Tropical Agriculture Platform, Agri-Hub Ethiopia, and many others. YPARD is building a mentoring program between young professionals and professional supporters over the age of forty. A pilot peer-to-peer mentoring program ended February 2012.
The highlight of YPARD’s activities in 2012 was its strong presence at the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development 2012 (GCARD2). GCARD2 is a partnership between the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) that focuses on how to implement the necessary changes of agricultural research for development. YPARD had observer status on the GCARD2 Organizing Committee and was recognized as the key youth mechanism of the conference. YPARD also collaborated with CGIAR to bring 35 young reporters to the conference.
YPARD offers information for young professionals related to funding, jobs, events, news, and other resources. Through monthly newsletters, funding news bulletins, a community blog, and a showcase room of ideas and best practices, YPARD has built a comprehensive resource for youth in agriculture.
There has been a 44 percent increase in new members since March 2012, and recently YPARD launched YPARD China. Though YPARD is headquartered in Rome, its mission to “facilitate the exchange of information […] across disciplines, professions, age and regions” is seen in its engagement in every continent around the world.
Agricultural research for development is critical in facing the challenges of the 21st century. Yet, YPARD notes, there is a lack of participation, opportunities, and support of young professionals in agriculture. The continually growing community of young professionals at YPARD offers an environment poised to help solve new challenges in agricultural research and development.