The youngsters gained excellent experiences

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Urban people often have a superficial image about rural life and agriculture, so Rural Adventure Programme offers a great opportunity for young city-dwellers to have a taste of the work that is done in village farms – said Undersecretary for Rural Development Zsolt V. Németh, the patron of the programme.

Why do you think it is important for urban young people to have a chance to get to know agiculture and the rural way of life at first-hand?
Besides assessing the Rural Adventures Programme of the Agricultural and Rural Youth Association – AGRYA (Hungary) successful, I also consider it to be a gap-filling initiative. I do so because young urban-dwellers often have superficial, stereotypical and distorted knowledge about agriculture, villages and rural life in general. This portrayal has two sides, since on one hand, there is a kind of a rosy-romantic facade about the rural way of life, but on the other hand, there is also an impression living in people that has underdeveloped mental and physical infrastructure, and they have a condescending view of the countryside, the rural lifestyle. AGRYA launched its  Rural Adventures Programme with the support of the European Commission, by which 18 to 35-year-old young urban people were able to join in the work of a farm led by a young farmer. It is important for the youth to have a chance to get to know agriculture, the countryside and rural people at this age, and to experience the effort that managing a farm, taking care of and providing for animals takes.

The European Union thinks it is important to promote agriculture, at least because the EU spends a major part of its budget on supporting the agrarian sectors. How do you assess Rural Adventure's performance to achieve this goal?
The EU spends approximately 40 percent of its budget on financing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)., so it is reasonable that the European Commission puts strong emphasis on communicating the CAP. The citizens of the member states have to know why it is important to support the agricultural sector. During the Rural Adventure programme, the urban youth can gain first-hand experiences about agriculture, and this is a dual success, since – because of their way of life – it is harder for city dwellers to understand the essence of agriculture, and that why it is necessary to support this sector with billions. Many marketing campaigns were conducted in several member states of the EU, publications were released to promote agriculture. From a communicational point of view, the success of the Rural Adventure programme is that this initiative was not written for a desk drawer. The “adventurers” had to personally take part of the hosting farm's life, and – after spending a week there – they had to publish their experiences in newspaper articles and blog posts. These reports of laymen depict the world of agriculture as an adventure – although there were some for whom the time spent at the farm was more like a survival camp, but they were proud of their achievement nonetheless. So the programme was an initiative that was executed and accomplished based on a good idea.

What do you expect from the continuation of the programme?
I hope that the initiative will reach as many people as it can. When I visited the Bénó-garden in Arnót, a jurist girl was working in the greenhouse. According to my experience, the encounter of the farmers and urban young people provided a positive experience that inspired those who are close to them to get to know this world. Later, at the end of the programme, when the hosting farmers and the “adventurers” met again, not only did they share the knowledge they gained with each other: the huge amount of what this one-week-long get-together in the countryside meant was palpable.