The IFOAM Asia Organic Youth Forum was successfully held at the SURSECO Bislig Office at Bislig City, Philippines, last September 16th – 18th, 2018. 26 foreign delegates from all over the world, including Julia Lernoud from Argentina, Board Member of IFOAM Organics International and Patrick German from the UK, Digital Communications Coordinator of IFOAM Organic International joined the 3-day conference. The foreign delegates were joined by 80 youth leaders from all over the Philippines and Bislig City.
The Opening Ceremony. At the opening ceremony on the 16th of September, the youth leaders had an overview of the status and prospects of Organic Agriculture in Asia, delivered by no less than the President of IFOAM Asia, Dr. Zhou Zejiang. This was followed by the status and overview of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines, shared by Rebecca Atega, Regional Department of Agriculture Field Operations Division Chief and Organic Agriculture Focal Person for the Region.
A fruitful panel discussion that focused on the benefits of organic agriculture was held afterwards, with youth leaders from Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Taiwan, Bhutan, Japan and the Philippines delivering their respective presentations to the audience.
Day 2: Field Trips. On the 2nd day, the youth leaders visited the City Organic Agriculture Fisheries Complex (COAFC), a 27.5 hectare developed by Bislig City to showcase the very best practices of Organic Agriculture. They then visited the different elementary schools in Bislig City which have adopted organic agriculture in their curriculum. Students as young as 7 years old were planting organic vegetables in their proudly made organic gardens. The youth leaders have also interacted with the elementary students with the use of the fishbowl discussion, resulting to a dynamic interaction between the youth leaders and the elementary students.
The Organic Youth Forum delegates were then treated to the magnificent view of the majestic Tinuy-an Falls where they had their lunch and a few hours of relaxation.
Day 3: Meeting the Organic Pioneers of Asia. On the final day of the Youth Forum, the youth leaders had the chance to meet with the organic pioneers of Asia. Mr Nicanor Perlas, a national and prominent figure in the organic agriculture industry in the Philippines and a Right Livelihood Award Recipient in the Philippines talked about the Need to Engage in Organic and Sustainable Farming. The following organic pioneers also shared their stories and experiences with the youth leaders:
- Bablu Ganguly from India and Board Member of IFOAM Organics International talked about the Timbaktu Story
- Shirley Tien from China shared her Organic Story
- The inspirational Father Hubby Mathew from India discussed for 45 minutes, the Empowerment of Village Communities through Sustainable Development
The 2018 Organic Youth Forum Declaration and the Organic Youth Forum Ambassadors. During the closing ceremony of the Youth Forum, 2 representatives from the youth leaders read the 2018 Organic Youth Forum Declaration. Hui-Jung Chen from Taiwan and Rodolfo Domingo from the Philippines communicated their role and responsibility as youth leaders in propagating Organic Agriculture in their respective countries. Furthermore, 12 organic youth ambassadors were chosen out from the delegates who were also the pioneers of the Organic Youth Forum. These 11 ambassadors, together with the rest of the 2018 Organic Youth Forum delegates are the champions of Organic Agriculture in their respective countries.