Farmers from around the world share ideas on World Food Day

October 16, 2018

To mark the occasion of World Food Day, farmers from around the world will convene in Iowa to share thoughts on the challenges they face and the technologies and tools that will help them meet those challenges.

As part of the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, farmers from ten countries will participate in a two-day Global Farmer Roundtable hosted by the Global Farmer Network.

Among the participants will be three alumni of Cornell Alliance for Science farmer training courses. Below is an introduction to the farmers who will be representing AfS in Iowa.

Gina Gutierrez

Georgina “Gina” Gutierrez is a fifth generation dairy farmer from Mexico and a passionate advocate for the dairy industry. She oversees the welfare of several hundred cows on her farm near Hidalgo in central Mexico. She describes farming as “the most noble profession we can have” and says the most rewarding part of her job is “getting to the fields every day and you know, you can watch the sunrise and the sunset every day, knowing that we are doing a good thing, that we are watching crops grow, watching our livestock grow.”

In a recent op-ed for the Des Moines Register, Gina attempted to dispel some of the myths about dairy farming and vigorously disputed claims that dairy cows are mistreated.

“I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I’d possibly want to come back as a dairy cow on my family’s farm. That’s how well we treat them,” she wrote.

Learn more about Gina here.

AD Alvarez

AD Alvarez is a corn (maize) farmer in the Philippines. He grows insect-resistant Bt corn on his 35-hectare farm on the Camotes Islands and is working tirelessly to improve the lives of his fellow island residents. But he does that by showing, not telling.

“There is this mindset of islander people; they don’t necessarily believe you right away if you are coming from the outside,” AD told the Alliance for Science last year. “No amount of classroom training would make them believe what you are saying. So we don’t conduct training because we want them to see it first. To see is to believe.”

“My approach has never been, ‘Hey farmers, this is what you need to do: plant this, biotech, etc., etc.’ It’s not a one-way prescriptive approach. It always needs to be a dialogue. It’s a process,” he added.

Learn more about AD here.

Patience Koku

Patience Koku is an entrepreneurial farmer in Nigeria who is emerging as an international spokeswoman for introducing agricultural innovation to her country. She is an outspoken advocate for ensuring that farmers everywhere have access to innovation, including modern seeds, irrigation, equipment and machinery.

“Going into farming, I found that people did things a certain kind of way for years,” she told the Alliance earlier this year. “Even if it didn’t work, they kept at it. They were not willing to change. They weren’t willing to embrace new things.  What I did different was I tried out new things.”

But Patience does more than just walk the talk at Replenish Farms, a large, irrigated operation that produces soya, maize, rice and vegetables, as well as seeds. She is also a vocal advocate on behalf of all farmers.

In addition to her participation at the Global Farmer Roundtable, Patience also recently attended the Cornell Alliance for Science global farmers leadership course in Illinois, where she was interviewed on TV about African agriculture and joined five farmers from Kenya, India, the United Kingdom and the United States in May for a live-streamed panel discussion about the difficulties that farmers face everywhere.

Learn more about Patience here.

The Global Farmer Roundtable at the World Food Prize is taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here is what some former participants have had to say about the unique gathering: