August 23, 2018 | By Becky Zhong

Next Generation 2018 - Youth and Agriculture All Around the World

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.

Agricultural science is a challenging and rewarding subject of study, one that uniquely combines the life sciences with our societal and cultural influences—ultimately forming a discipline with diverse and broad applicability to many stakeholders. As someone who is passionate and deeply involved in agricultural science, specifically crop production and plant genetics, I was honored to be selected as a Next Generation Delegate to the 2018 Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Food Security Symposium. During the three days at the conference, I gained a great amount of information and knowledge about different aspects of global food security issues and challenges. It was an incredible opportunity for me to get to know so many other young people who have a similar passion for global food security and agriculture. I was able to connect and network with many of the delegates who are graduate or upper level undergraduate students and gain perspective on different subject matters that link complex food production and food security issues.

As the theme for this year’s symposium was Youth for Growth, which focused on the challenges of promoting agriculture among young people, encouraging young people to farm, and providing the platform/infrastructure to foster young people to lead this industry. These topics are of great interest to me for many reasons. I have learned about the issues surrounding youth in agriculture in Africa, where most of the world’s youth population growth is happening, but also learned how these issues are applicable to countries around the world, including the United States. In addition, I think cultivating young people to be involved in agricultural production is as important as motivating young people to study agricultural sciences, so that future generations can sustain agricultural production by providing new knowledge and innovative ideas to applied on-farm production. I believe that by linking applied sciences and actual production through the large agroecosystem scale approach, we can make positives changes to our global food security challenges.

Currently, there are many issues in production agriculture that remains to be tackled, so it will be upon the youth to act and lead solutions to these issues. On the crop production side, there are new plant pathogens such as the wheat stem rust race Ug99 which is detrimental to many smallholder farms and farmers that grow wheat in East Africa . Wheat is an economically important and nutritious food staple in many regions of the world, and countries in North America, including the United States, have begun initiatives to screen and breed for resistant cultivars of wheat against the race Ug99. This is just one issue in global food security that we are all facing together, and global initiatives and strategies are in place now to control and monitor such disease. At the Global Food Security Symposium, I was exposed to many more issues similar to this fight against Ug99, and it was fascinating for me to discover so many opportunities for agronomists and crop scientists like me to be a part of to fight against hunger, famine, and malnutrition issues all around the world.

I am more determined in fighting for a better future and food security system after attending the 2018 Global Food Security Symposium. Through better communication and respect for each other, we can better protect our food production systems, develop and implement more sustainable agricultural production and thus provide more food security across the globe. There are many opportunities awaiting for us, the youth, and the future generation’s leaders all across the globe in improving and making the global food security conditions better. We must work together, across all sectors to increase our current understanding to tackle new challenges.


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.


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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

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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.