August 29, 2018 | By Millicent Yeboah-Awudzi

Next Generation 2018 - Dreams of Change

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.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA


| By Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.