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An association is being formed to bring fresh blood and an injection of new ideas into agricultural research and policymaking in developing countries.

The Young Professionals' Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) will be formally launched in November during the Global Forum on Agricultural Research in New Delhi, India.

The organisation is the brainchild of Balasubramanian Ramani, an Indian crop researcher based at the University of Hannover in Germany.

He says YPARD is needed to give prominence to the needs and views of young professionals active in development-related agricultural research.

Ramani and 25 colleagues from 16 nations met earlier this month in the Netherlands to develop the organisation's strategic plan for 2006-2008.

Under the plan, YPARD will encourage professionals under the age of 40 to share information and engage in policy debates on issues such as research priorities and genetic engineering.

The organisation also aims to promote farming and agricultural research as career options by creating links with secondary schools and universities.

Next month, it will create a website ( to host online forums and databases of young professionals' contact details. It will also list training opportunities, funding, jobs, conferences and relevant organisations.

This month's meeting heard calls for YPARD to be proactive in creating opportunities for young people instead of waiting for the old guard of agricultural researchers to hand over.

YPARD has the backing of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.

Despite this high-profile support, Ramani says there are challenges ahead for the organisation. "We still have work to do to convince those who are still sceptical about YPARD and its role in agricultural research for development," he told SciDev.Net.

To contact YPARD, please email [email protected]