Feeding the Hungry Planet
Nikita Bhusal is a Graduate Assistant at Lincoln University of Missouri. She is studying a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture with a research focus on microbial Food Safety. She also a Communication Focal Point at YPARD Nepal and Thought For Food Global Ambassador.
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As someone who has enough food to eat on their plate every day, the fact that over 820 million people around the world still suffer from different forms of hunger horrifies me. This concern increases since the global population continues to rapidly increase while arable land decreases. To address this concern, Bayer Crop Science aims to empower the next generation of agricultural leaders by bringing together 100 young minds from 45 different countries for the Youth Ag Summit (YAS). After months of intensive preparations, the Summit was held in Brasilia, Brazil for three days in November 2019.
Brazil as the location for the Summit was one of my motivating factors to apply as a YAS delegate since it is home to the world’s largest tropical rain forest, the Amazon, and is a nation that proves its exemplary agricultural practices by being one of the biggest food exporters. My excitement doubled when I discovered that I would share my project idea among my fellow delegates, mentors and organizers. In May 2019, I became one step closer to helping eliminate world hunger when I secured a place among the 99 other young innovators chosen as a YAS delegate. I felt so lucky!
“Thrive for change” projects
Thrive for change is the highlight of the Summit where each delegate presents their individual ideas for a food-secured planet. The YAS delegates were divided into 10 different groups according to our areas of interest and introduced to their respective mentors. These groups worked together to brush up the individual delegate’s work for the final pitch presentation.
The “SIGA” group: Embracing the latest agricultural innovations
Synergic Innovation for Global Agriculture (SIGA) was the group that I was assigned to along with nine other delegates and two mentors. As the name suggests, we are a group of youths who are working on or have ideas related to agricultural innovation. I was amazed by how brilliant and noteworthy the ideas were that each of us had. From nitrogen-fixing bacteria in soil by Kalinka Gonzales (Brazil) to using robotics in agriculture by Hector Garcia (Mexico), everybody’s solutions to food security were intriguing. Sara Waqar’s (Pakistan) idea of empowering rural farmers by making funding more accessible and Andre Tomas Herman’s (Brazil) solution of scientific knowledge sharing in native languages were simple — yet impactful — project ideas. When it comes to more in the scientific-based research, Kazi Jawoad Hossai (Bangladesh) studied how to reduce disease-causing microbes in potatoes, which is rampant in south Asian regions, was very significant. His research idea was well-developed and went on to the final pitch presentation. Bethany Love (United Kingdom) presented her idea of increasing production through a genetically modified wheat variety. Every project had new approaches, but the same encouraging mission of feeding the planet.
This session was very constructive and helped me find out the challenges in my study to shape it for the better. A huge thanks to my teammates and mentors Mark Edge and Patchareeya Boonkorkaew. This was a lifetime opportunity to get hands-on mentorship from such experienced advisors and colleagues from diverse backgrounds.
Pursuing better nutrition
My project proposal explored how to address the hidden hunger prevalent in my country, Nepal, at a low cost and with easy processing technology by enriching corn (also called maize) grain with vitamins (niacin), minerals (like calcium) and micronutrients (iron and zinc) and processing it into daily snacks. In Nepal, especially many women and children, suffer from nutrition deficits like calcium, iron, niacin, etc. One of the main reasons for malnutrition is the poor economic condition of the country. Currently, 25 percent of the total population still falls under the poverty line, leaving some families with the inability to afford nutritious food. This also leads to a high child mortality rate, under-grown children, dwarfism, malnourished women and undernourished lactating mothers. These are of tremendous concern and jeopardize the nation’s overall development. Hence, with my project, I want to help reduce food insecurity and boost my country’s economy with my project.
3X100 little things
All 100 of us had our own three little things that we learned from the overall Summit. My three little “big” things are:
Speak up: Never hesitate to speak your mind. Undoubtedly, every person is different and the way we think is different, so our outlook might be new and interesting to others and vice versa.
Be positive: There were undeniably a lot of challenges in every new idea, but we were positive and confident with ourselves. There was an absolute friendship amongst the diversity within a few days.
Don’t worry, there’s always tomorrow: As the point suggests, don’t be in a hurry to do everything. Some of the delegates shared their stories of failure that later led to success. So, if I cannot make it happen today, I can do it better tomorrow.
The Youth Ag Summit was one of my most memorable experiences in 2019. The journey from being a YAS delegate to a YAS alumna was incredible. I am immensely happy and proud of my fellow delegates and am thankful to Bayer Crop Science for organizing an incredible learning experience that made us all feel so special. I urge every young activist work together to make the world a better place to live.