The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is pleased to present the 2018 Next Generation Delegates blog series. This year’s Delegation was comprised of 27 outstanding students from universities across the United States and around the world studying agriculture, food, and related disciplines. We were thrilled to feature these emerging leaders at the Global Food Security Symposium 2018, and look forward to sharing the exciting work of this extraordinary group.
During my undergraduate studies, I joined a team of young leaders called “CHANGE”. The mission of this group was to change the mindset of teenagers to aspire to pursue higher education. On one of the trips to a village in the Ashanti region of Ghana, I met a young boy in elementary school and I asked him the big question, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” He simply answered, “a taxi driver.” Initially, I couldn’t understand why that would be his aspiration, but after winning the Norman E. Borlaug Fellowship award in 2015 and getting the opportunity to attend the World Food Prize, I perfectly understood the young boy. Finding himself in a farming community, he never wanted to be like them because of the labor involved and the low returns on their produce. Dreams are built on what you’re exposed to, and what individuals are exposed to has great variation. Attending the world food prize event in 2015 from Ghana changed my whole perception of food, my career, and my belief in the potential I have as a young person. From then on, I have always desired to be in an environment of ambitious young people who have dreams and aspirations to make the world a better place.
With new lifestyles, imported dietary practices, and globalization taking root in Africa, diabetes and its complications are now considered an epidemic in Africa. As an entrepreneur and a food scientist, I decided to look more into the health benefits of this hibiscus, the main ingredient of my beverage industry. I’m currently completing research on bioactive compounds such as anthocyanin metabolites found in hibiscus, and the effect of these compounds on reducing inflammation in the pancreatic cells while increasing the secretion of the hormone insulin in type-2 diabetes. Through my experiences, I have come to appreciate the fact that business can be created from science and food.
Having the opportunity to be part of the 2018 Global Food Security Symposium opened my eyes ven more. It provided me with the opportunity to dream bigger and to learn from others in the pursuit of making the world food and nutrition secure. My favorite part of the symposium was the community of practice exercise where we discussed our research learning and taking key findings from others and above all, realizing how great the impact will be on our food and agricultural system when we work together as a team. The experience was phenomenal.
This year’s theme focused on youth for growth, and one of the most discussed issues was why the youth are not more actively involved in agriculture. It’s about time we communicate and showcase the beauty of agriculture and the potential business opportunities that food and agriculture present. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would definitely let the young boy who wanted to be a taxi driver, see the great opportunity in agriculture and science.