By Renata Ahlert
Monsanto Beachell Borlaug Scholar
As a scholar since 2010, it is an honor for me to represent Monsanto’s Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program (MBBISP). One of the many special opportunities the program has given me is the chance to meet and talk with world leaders who are focused on fighting hunger through improving agriculture, similar to what my MBBISP colleagues are doing during International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) this week.
When I was at the 2013 Chicago Council Global Food Security Symposium recently, I was able to meet with Monsanto president Brett Begemann, Maurico Antonio Lopes (the head of Brazil’s agricultural research organization EMBRAPA) and many other incredibly smart people who are passionate about agriculture just like me. It was an unforgettable opportunity and I am so grateful to get these experiences through MBBISP.
In addition to special events like Chicago Council and IFAMA, the program gives me the opportunity to participate in The World Food Prize as well. My passion for rice breeding is met with enthusiasm at the World Food Prize and just further affirms that all of us scholars are really making a difference.
With more than 9 billion people expected to live on the planet in 2050, it is important now more than ever to make improvements to wheat and rice, two crops critical for nourishing developing countries .I’m also passionate about creating global awareness for the importance of these crops. As Mr. Begemann said at the Chicago Council and Mr. Grant said during the IFAMA conference, the time for change is now and my generation is a part of this change.
I’m so happy to see that my country, Brazil, is thriving in terms of food security and it is an example for many other countries. Even better is knowing that I can be part of this change.
One of 52 scholars in MBBISP, I am the future of agriculture and I want to contribute through the opportunities I receive through the program. I’m learning every day and this program is helping me not only in my academic and scientific training, but also in learning how to be a better communicator and leader.
My research focus, breeding rice for cold tolerance in Southern Brazil, was developed to meet regional needs for agricultural production, aiming to contribute better technology to rice for farmers in my state. Despite major advances we still have major obstacles to overcome in terms of agriculture. Through research we can improve our production, optimize the productivity of major crops in a sustainable way and explore new technologies that developing regions need to feed their populations and tackle their own climate challenges.
Yes, the challenges are enormous and the world’s population increases every day. But the need to produce food for 9 million people in 2050 inspires me to continue searching. I think it is necessary that new generations have access to these opportunities so that we can continue to fight world hunger. I want to be part of this change, I hope to continue having opportunities to participate in events like this that promote knowledge, overcoming challenges and show the need for change to the people. With the extension of the MBBISP, I’m excited to welcome many more of the next generation of ag research into this great “club” and I can’t wait to work hand in hand to feed the world.
Photograph: Renate Ahlert with Brett Begemann, Monsanto’s president, at the recent meeting the Chicago Council Global Food Symposium in Washington, D.C.