Almost recently, the European Union has been hit by the economic crisis. More specifically, the European South, which is mainly devoted to agriculture, has been in the centre of the storm, with youth unemployment to be the most severe. Despite the fact that, according to Eurostat, the regions in the South have suffered the most as seem to be even more traumatized by the economic consequences, these same countries have given signs of progress concerning the increasing trends in the number of young people who decided, instead of searching for a job in the city, to go to the countryside and start their own business with a specific focus on agriculture and organic farming. However, as has been described by the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), the majority of them lack the necessary skills and competences as many of them have not studied in the sector but took over their family business (e.g family inheritance) or decided to work in the sector due to the high rates of unemployment, which still remains an unresolved problem in the Southern EU region.

Under this spirit, “Grow Green” seeks to manage the combination of the above issues in order to tackle them with a holistic, practical approach. For that reason the project is not merely limited in helping young people to construct their business ideas correlated to the agricultural sector, but it goes even deeper; seeking to provide concrete guidelines on how to develop the necessary skills and competences to accomplish the above target by using innovative ideas and methods, with the scope to renew the whole sector of agriculture, based also on the EU’s Recommendation on “Youth Guarantee”, already adopted since 2013. Besides, for the period 2014-2020, EU has set as one of its main objectives, the reinforcement of agriculture and organic farming and simultaneously the enhancement of young farmers, by providing them the necessary to get into the entrepreneurship sector. ‘Grow Green’ comes to complete this boost by providing young farmers with all the information needed in order to be capable to convert their business into profitable and sound enterprises.

In that way, ‘Grow Green’ will not only enrich young professionals’ knowledge concerning the field, but will also contribute to addressing the issue of youth unemployment by boosting rural and regional economy through the creation of new agribusinesses. More specifically, the amplification of education in combination with the creation of an unprecedented strong networking amongst young people in the sector of agriculture and bio-agriculture will definitely help to refresh the economic activities in rural areas, thus aiming to regional development, a fact that provides an additional quality to the project.

“Grow Green” focuses on the:
1. Decrease of youth unemployment by involving more young people in the agriculture sector.
2. Reduction of NEET (referring to a person who is not in employment, education or training), by mostly focusing and approaching countries which have both high rates of NEET, but also growth potential of the agro-food sector.
3. Boost of agro-entrepreneurial culture amongst young people.

Therefore, it will set up a package of a ‘web platform’ and educational videos that will:
– inform young people on both the agricultural market trends and the business environment of agriculture.
– meliorate young people’s knowledge and skills in order to strengthen their agro-business profile.
-evolve good practices, and particularly educational methods on agricultural fields, thus seeking to motivate youngsters to be involved with the agricultural sector.
-assist young people already involved in the sector to develop and implement innovative practices in the agricultural sector.
-create potential partnerships and future collaborations, through which new initiatives between experienced farmers and newcomers will arise.

Furthermore, ‘Grow Green’ will give the opportunity to aspiring young farmers to move one step further in their training, by providing them a web platform specially-designed for the purposes of the project, where young farmers/participants will have the opportunity to identify the skills and knowledge needed to be involved in the sector in a successful way.

It is equally important that “Grow Green” does not only focus on young people who either want to start their own agricultural business; it also seeks to provide additional knowledge and skills to persons who are already engaged in the agricultural and bio-agricultural sector whilst simultaneously ensuring the creation of a strong networking with other successful professionals.

The consortium consists of the Cypriot NGO Citizens in Power, the Greek NGO iED and the Spanish company Red2Red. The three organizations share a common objective which is the development young people with necessary skills that contribute to their coveted entry into the business arena.