FEATURE STORY October 13, 2017

Young Farmers Inspire Optimism for our 'Future Harvest'

Panelists at the World Bank's Future Harvest event.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • New technologies and innovations are driving change in agriculture and creating job opportunities for youth.
  • Gender barriers still exist, but women farmers continue to break stereotypes as they take over family farms and manage successful agribusinesses.
  • Collaboration is key for farmers who are just starting out. Online platforms are helping for networking and sharing information.

To commemorate World Food Day, we’re celebrating young farmers who are working to feed the world and improve food security through innovation, collaboration and hard work. The World Bank recently hosted an event highlighting farmers who are finding profit and purpose in agriculture

Journalist Femi Oke moderated the panel, which was headlined by Shelly-Ann Dinnall, a poultry farmer from Jamaica; Pedro Diniz, founder and CEO of a large scale organic farm in Brazil; Katrina Sasse, a cereal farmer from Australia; and Brian Ndyaguma, an entrepreneur who grows greens to supply his café in Uganda.


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"" -- Katrina Sasse

Katrina, who left behind a banking career to work on her family farm, spoke first. She discussed sharing stories of successful women farmers on social media (see @katrinasasse on Twitter) to inspire others like herself to get involved in agriculture. She also shared her enthusiasm for new technologies, from satellite imagery to blockchain, that are about to revolutionize the way farming is done and further open the profession to women.

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” -- Shelly-Ann Dinnell

Shelly-Ann had to take over the family poultry operation when she was just 20 when her mother fell ill, and bounced back from misfortunes when hurricane Sandy wiped out part of her investment thanks to good relationships with her bankers. Still, she considers herself “privileged” and called on policy makers to help create a more supportive environment for others who do not have preexisting farms or credit. She now manages a farm of 1 million birds per year with just 8 employees and uses solar power panels on her chicken coops to keep production costs down (see video here, from 2015).


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. If I don’t have land, someone else might have land that is not being used.” -- Brian Ndyaguma

Brian sold eggs through university to pay his school fees and in the last 8 months has begun venturing into urban farming. He recommended teaming up with other people to overcome the resource constraints many young people face. Drawing on his experience in the innovation ecosystem in Kampala, he said his preferred team size is three people – one person with the initial idea and two others with specialized knowledge to improve soil quality and grow successful vegetables for example. (If someone’s parents have an unused piece of land, that’s helpful too.) 

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“When you understand how nature operates, you start getting better results.” -- Pedro Diniz

Finally Pedro, an ex-Formula 1 driver, told the story of falling in love with his family farm (see video here, in Portuguese) after he retired from car racing. The farm was bought on the day he was born, back in 1970. Since returning to the farm, he has been introducing profitable agroforestry approaches to growing food that draw on “nature’s intelligence” rather than fighting it. He gave the example of grass, which farmers typically seek to suppress, but can produce very efficient feed for productive trees. He made a plea for more research in agroecology so that agriculture can restore rather than degrade the planet.

Together, these farmers made the case for agriculture that is more open to women, accessible to all, unafraid of being different, and is in harmony with the environment.

The speakers’ diverse backgrounds and experiences prove that everyone can contribute to building a food system that can feed everyone, everywhere, everyday--and build a satisfying and profitable career while they’re at it.

Feeling inspired? Let us know what you think on Twitter using #FutureHarvest. 

Watch a recording of our event here.

Read what the World Bank’s Food and Agriculture Senior Director Juergen Voegele has to say about ending hunger and building a food system that can feed the world

Watch an earlier event featuring young entrepreneurs and innovators in the food and agriculture sector here.

 


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