It could be a new panel discussion at the next World Food Prize symposium: Is agriculture sexy?
Mpule Kwelagobe of Africa introduced the idea when asked what needed to be done to attract young people to agriculture.
“We need to make agriculture sexy,” said Kwelagobe, director of the MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development, a group that helps young women succeed in farming.
Young people would rather move to urban areas, even if it means living in slums and working piece jobs than remaining in rural Africa to grow food, Kwelagobe said. The image of farming, she said, is of a hard life — a woman “with a baby on her back and a hoe in her hand,” she said.
Those young people — “the innovators of tomorrow” — will be key to reducing world hunger, said DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, a panel moderator.
“We need to build the skill and the will to address the food security challenge,” especially with the world’s population expected to grow to 9 billion people by 2050, Kullman said.
Kwelagobe said making sure young people know more about the scientific and technology jobs that are available in farming and the businesses around the industry will be key to attracting young people to farming.
Brett Begemann, president and chief commercial officer at seed company Monsanto, picked up the idea.
“Agriculture is sexy,” he said in his closing comments, noting that agriculture uses the most advanced technology, the most advanced science and the most advanced mathematics available.
Moderator Martina Newell-McGloughlin of the University of California-Davis said she expected to soon see #AgricultureIsSexy.