The agricultural sector was, and continues to be, the driving force for Vietnam economic growth and the largest employer in Vietnam – employing half of the nation’s workforce. Thus, engaging and equipping young people with the right mindset and skills are an important part of Vietnam’s effort to advance and accelerate economic growth and agriculture. As a company committed to engaging with society and developing talent and advocates for our industry, Monsanto executives engaged with 200 students on “Leadership, Purpose & Sustainability” in Hanoi at the National Economics University at a meeting organized by the university’s student newspaper, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and National Economics University.
The discussion also featured other speakers and participants, including Prof. Doc. Pham Quang Trung, Vice Dean of the Hanoi National Economics University; Nguyen Huy Loc, Editor-in-chief of the student newspaper; and Vu Tu Thanh, Vietnam Representative for the US-ASEAN Business Council.
At the event, the students learned of the challenges facing agriculture –growing population, increasing demand in food and diminishing natural resources. They also learned about the important role young people can play in developing sustainable agriculture and why it matters. The students were also given insight into how non-agricultural students can have a significant role in agribusiness and compete in the global economy, particularly in food and agriculture.
“Agriculture, perhaps more than any other industry in the world, has the opportunity to not only improve the lives of farmers, but the lives of their families and the communities around them,” said Jesus Madrazo, Monsanto’s Vice President of Corporate Engagement. “It’s one of the reasons why we at Monsanto are so passionate about what we do. In Vietnam, agriculture has become a pillar of Vietnam’s economy and will continue to be the core driver of economic growth. To achieve its mission, Vietnam agriculture industry needs talented, goal-driven and passionate youth for sustainable development.”
“I am also from non-agriculture background,” Madrazo said. “However, on the journey to pursue my dream of environment and sustainability, I realized that agriculture is the sector that has a tremendous impact on this planet and people.”
Natalie DiNicola, Monsanto’s Director of Sustainability & Signature Partnerships, cited the example of the Amazon region, and noted that people in the region need to grow crops to earn a living. “If the crops they produce on the current land resources they have are inadequate, they will have to destroy forest to turn the jungle land into cultivated fields,” she said. “We cannot stop people from destroying the forest. But if we can help them find a solution to produce more on the same land they have today, they will not be tempted to seek more land. That’s why we are here today, to tell you that why sustainable agriculture matters. Agriculture is all about doing the right thing to our planet and people.”
During the question-and-answer period, students from across the university asked questions about agribusiness, marketing strategy, GM crops and Monsanto.
“Agriculture is still an unfamiliar topic to students like us – major in economics, not in agriculture,” said one student. “Can you share more on the opportunities to work in agriculture for someone from non-agriculture backgrounds like us?” Madrazo shared his journey from a non-agricultural background to the leadership position in Monsanto and explained how economic students can play a role in reinforcing food security and developing agriculture sustainably.
“Maybe you do not know, my main discipline was law, not agriculture,” Madrazo said. “It’s the same for many people at Monsanto. To operate the business, like any other company, we need people from a variety of backgrounds, from sales personnel and marketing to finance and accounting. You can be involved in agriculture in numerous ways. The key to success is your passion and can-do attitude.”
DiNicola also encouraged students to be responsible citizens, check their sources and facts, and be empowered citizens as they will shoulder responsible for the future.
Vu Tu Thanh, Deputy Regional Managing Director & Representative of the US-ASEAN Business Council in Vietnam, addressed some of the misconceptions about agriculture. “I believe that most of the students attending the event today and even myself had the prejudice that agriculture associated with ‘poor’ and ‘not relevant to our future.’ However, my mindset has been changed after listening to the story from the discussion today. We can be involved in agriculture in many ways, from sales, finance, marketing to environment sustainability. We can help our people, country and planet. There are many opportunities in agriculture, globally and locally. Agriculture is much more than what we used to think.”