efe-epaChinavita, Colombia

A group of Colombian farmers have taken a modern, more ecological approach to farming in hopes to draw millennials back to the countryside.

"We realized that we old people were being left behind in villages with diminishing health to work," Desiderio Gamez, 67, told EFE, as he explained how he associated with his neighbors to create a project aimed at keeping their children and grandchildren from leaving their plantations.

All eight of Gamez's children have moved to the city.

Poultry farming in the town of Chinavita is part of the Tejiendo Ruralidad (Weaving Rurality) initiative, a project of the local Catholic diocese that covers some 150 families across five municipalities of the central province of Boyaca.

The province has a youth unemployment rate of 13 percent and it accounted for 30 percent of the Colombian young people who migrated from rural areas to cities in the 2010-2015 period.

The phenomenon caused a drop in production due to the shortage of labor, as well as the lack of technological assistance to overcome poverty, which in Chinavita is as much as 75 percent.

The project - the backbone of which is raising free-range chickens - has helped improve the region's economy and farmers' access to technology.

"Boys leave in search of better conditions," Victoria Talero, 73, who takes care of her vegetable patches with her husband Efren, 88, said. "That's why we need to improve conditions here."

Concerns are also felt by young people, such as Juan Pablo Casadiego, creator of Agrikua, an online platform designed to empower female farmers, as well as German Andres Vasquez, who uses advanced techniques to modernize small plots of land through the use of simple cellular phones and digital tablets.

"Technology aside, we need to change the notion that farm work means poverty and turn it into an opportunity to help the country grow, so as to urge young people to stay and make it productive," Vasquez, 25, told EFE.

On the occasion of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's World Food Day, observed Oct. 16, the institution indicated that 70 percent of people in extreme poverty around the world live in rural areas.