SIANI has a long history of working with, and for, youth in agriculture. This focus has been strengthened in the Theory of Change in SIANI’s fourth programme phase. In 2023, SIANI collaborated with young individuals and youth-led organisations – both as organisers, speakers and participants – at activities such as Agri4D, the Agroecology Day at SLU in Alnarp, Järvaveckan, Almedalen, World Food Forum, Committee on World Food Security, a collaboration with the World Food Prize – youth and courses at SLU.
Engaging youth is, however, not only about numbers and participation, but also about recognising young people in food systems as key actors, and engaging youth with their own ideas and projects. It is also about fostering intergenerational dialogues, engaging all ages in topics that concern young people, and integrating young people´s agenda and ideas into all dialogues related to food systems to avoid silos. SIANI has the capacity to foster such conversations with a broader focus on multisector dialogues and actors, but with a youth sub-impact focus.
For example, at the World Food Forum 2023, SIANI’s Director was invited to a session where few organizations without a youth focus were represented in the discussion. SIANI also invited three young entrepreneurs, communicators and researchers to speak at a SIANI-led event. The event featured senior specialists from IFAD and FAO, as well as Fredrik Alfer, Deputy Director-General for EU and International Affairs at the Swedish Ministry of Rural Affairs and Infrastructure. During the event, an intergenerational discussion took place where young people’s ideas led the discussion, and senior specialists provided comments and reflections.
SIANI’s long engagement with youth has boosted relationships and collaboration with young people over time, strengthening our community. Already in 2022, SIANI invited Naol Adugna Oli, co-founder of Beta Blockers in Ethiopia, to be part of a dialogue held in Almedalen together with the World Food Programme.
Beta Blockers is a business developed by four young entrepreneurs and students in Addis Ababa. They have developed a recipe for crackers using locally sourced crops, that can fight malnutrition of children. Since initial engagement with Naol, SIANI has continued to work together. In 2023, Naol was invited to speak at the regional network meeting in Nairobi. His participation and engagement with SIANI have led to further opportunities for their business:
“Following my fruitful participation in the SIANI regional meeting, I’m thrilled to announce a pivotal development in our start-up’s journey. The local bureau in Ethiopia, impressed by the video presentation from the regional network meeting, has designated our initiative as a model for the city of Burayu, close to Addis Ababa. This recognition opens doors to extraordinary opportunities, including potential access to land and credit facilities. This success is a testament to the invaluable support and guidance we received from SIANI, and I express my heartfelt gratitude to the entire team.”
Naol Adugna Oli, Beta Blockers