CEJA – the European Council of Young Farmers – had been instrumental in shaping this exciting peer-to-peer meeting. The umbrella organisation managed to organise relevant and exciting high-level meetings. In addition to the meeting in the EU Committee on Agriculture, the group was therefore part of discussions with the EU Commission (DG for Agriculture and Rural Development) and with the President of the NAT section of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Peter Schmidt. In addition to the EU institutions, there were also meetings with farmers’ organisations in Brussels, such as the President of the World Farmers’ Organisation WFO, the Brussels representation of the DBV, and COPA-COGECA, where participants could ask questions about current issues affecting agriculture. In particular, the Farm to Fork strategy and the EU’s Green Deal were recurring topics of discussion.
All the meetings were characterised by positive and constructive exchanges. Young African farmers always attracted attention with their interesting, yet critical, questions, and thereby also aroused the interest of protagonists in remaining in contact with them over the long term. For example, EESC representatives expressed interest in including young African farmers in their panel discussions on and around topics involving agriculture and rural youth.
Under the motto “We are diverse, we connect, we act for the future,” the first YLIP cohort graduated from the SACAU YLIP program in Johannesburg in 2022. Together with the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) and AgrarKontakte International (AKI) e.V., the AHA has now organised this study tour for graduates in Europe. The chosen motto in South Africa once again became the central theme and key feature of this exchange.
In addition to the African participants, who come from eight different countries, host farming businesses were also to be found in eight different European countries. From Estonia to Italy and from Slovakia to Germany, agriculture is as diverse in Africa as it is in Europe. Participation in a workshop by the CEJA Working Group involving a total of 60 young farmers from 22 countries rounded off the week in Brussels.
The African participants spent the second week on host farms in the European Union. Here, in addition to cultural exchange, the focus is on mutual learning about common interests and challenges in agriculture. The closing workshop (05.-06.11.) enables SACAU YLIP alumni to reflect on what they have experienced and to share their varied experiences in Europe with their colleagues. Experiences on an apple farm in Slovenia and on a grain farm in Estonia are varied and enriching and illustrate the plurality in agriculture and farming businesses themselves.
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