Three steps closer to a better world

This is one of a series of blogs written by our Youth in Data delegates who participated in the 2020 CGIAR Convention on Big Data in Agriculture. The global event was held virtually 19-23 October 2020.

Agricultural innovations are the driver for enhancing food security and as agricultural economist Jonathan Mockshell stated during the State of the Evidence in Digital Agriculture session during the 2020 CGIAR convention on Big Data in Agriculture: Digital Dynamism for Adaptive Food Systems, “time is not on our side”. Farmers feed the world. Therefore, researchers and farmers have to connect and find solutions for feeding the growing global population. After participating in the Youth in Data Bootcamp that led to the 2020 One CGIAR convention, I was able to apply what I learned and come up with three innovative steps in the field of agri-science that could get us closer to achieve a more equitable and resilient world. As a Master’s student in Sustainable International Agriculture, it is important for me to share with you, which steps I believe must be taken in order to achieve a better, resilient and sustainable world. Here is how:

What does it take to take a step forward?

The social entrepreneur Ndidi Nwuneli, co-founder of Sahel Consulting, said that we all have to become lifelong learners. The key to positive change is agility. Agility is the ability to respond quickly as things change. The aim of agricultural innovators is to bridge the gap between the Have’s and Have-not’s by using knowledge, tools, data, and our internal drive to find solutions. With this attitude facing the challenges in the farming sector, we can come out stronger from the COVID-19 crisis as we were before. Why? Because of the realization of how crucial the safe food infrastructure is, especially when the health infrastructure is put to the test like nowadays.

First Step: Research and make technology your best friend!

Let’s begin with a good cup of coffee, think of Fairtrade 2.0., and explore Moyee Coffee. The first FairChain coffee company in the world is determined to fix the broken global coffee chain. They are working on getting coffee farmers to obtain a better price for their beans by taking on the responsibility of burning 84% of the beans in the country of origin achieving a “from farmers to your cup” motto and creating an impact with every coffee consumer’s purchase. Basically, they have been using blockchain technology to help farmers earn a fair wage. They have also done beta campaigns that have led to a coffee plantation in Ethiopia creating jobs and increasing incomes for farmers. Moyee is a good example of how blockchain technology can make a valuable and equitable contribution to the agricultural sector. Founder Guido van Staveren van Dijk and his team aim for an honest relationship between producers and consumers:

“This simple shift in the coffee chain improves the lives of millions of people in a radical and positive way.”

Thereupon, I encourage you to make an innovative and more conscious decision the next time you buy coffee.

Second Step: Educate yourself- Why Farm?

It is wonderful to learn about sustainable products and inspiring projects in the field of agriculture, like the coffee from Moyee. However, most people do not know where their food comes from. This is why some projects have taken the initiative of starting an agricultural education revolution, such as WHYFARM in Trinidad and Tobago. In multiple sessions during the Big Data in Agriculture Convention, Alpha Sennon, founder and CEO of WHYFARM stated that: “Agripreneur means action!” and that art, especially music and pictures, can be powerful tools to educate the younger generation. Sennon and his team created a comic where they feature the “FoodSecurity & Nutrition Superhero AGRIman” and successfully teach about farming, as well as why it is important for our global society. AGRIman inspires children to build a better world, and we have to be part of this agriCOOLture revolution!

Third Step: Make the world a better place by strengthening global partnerships

It is crucial to scale up from individualism and take the necessary steps towards uniting global efforts and farmers to make the world a better place for them and us. Let’s take Cowtribe in Ghana as an example of a company that is building partnerships in order to improve the lives of farmers and animals, directly impacting our food. Peter Awin, Co-founder of Cowtribe, social entrepreneur and technologist, described the company’s data-driven tools at the Data-driven innovations for food and nutrition security and animal health and animal welfare in the livestock sector Session as “pioneering cutting-edge technology and logistics systems to deliver animal vaccines and other livestock services to last farmers mile in Africa”. Awin emphasizes that the innovation process has to be a “two-way thing” between farmers and innovators. Listening to Awin’s words made me understand the importance of researchers providing farmers the opportunity to question new technology and services in order to generate the necessary farming tools to excel at their jobs. Similar to Jonathan Mockshell’s words, Awin states that researchers have to ask themselves: “What have we been doing all the time?”.

So, what have you been doing all this time?

If you are a student or researcher in the agricultural field like me, you are in a powerful position to make the world a better place. Do it! If you are a consumer, you have the power to daily create positive change through the products you decide to buy. Choose wisely! We must listen to farmers, work hand-in-hand with them, and make sure they obtain the most efficient technology for their crops.

Let’s go on this journey together to bring positive change, step-by-step.


Margarethe Sophie Karpe is a Master’s Degree candidate in the International Program: Sustainable International Agriculture at the University of Göttingen and the University of Kassel in Germany. Margarethe participated for the first time this year in the Youth in Data workshop and expressed that the Big Data in Agriculture Convention inspired her to rethink, share and discuss ongoing issues with  multiple professionals and entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture. She believes that opportunities like this give hope to the younger generation and help them be part of the change the world desperately needs to reduce poverty, increase food security, and reach sustainability.

At the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, we believe that if we are to achieve a sustainable food future, it is vital that today’s youth are able to access the agricultural research sector and that pathways are provided for them to contribute to the transformation needed.

As a part of that commitment, each year we host a free Youth in Data Digital workshop alongside our annual CGIAR convention on Big Data in Agriculture. For more information about this workshop and our other youth initiatives, please see our page here.

Feature photo: Ricky Martin / CIFOR.

November 12, 2020

Margarethe Sophie Karpe

2020 Youth in Data Delegate
CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture
Kassel Germany


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