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Why Agriculture? Why not?

There are things that school doesn’t teach us. It is true that it has the role to prepare us for the career we chose, therefore most of the times we memorise by heart definitions, theories and formulas. We have been taught complicated things, just because sometimes it sounds better, during my entire life, I can barely recall most of them, However, I have learnt that agriculture doesn’t require one to know by heart hundreds of books but instead it requires some passion and determination and everything else follows.

I remember a question that our professors used to ask us in the first year of university; Why did you choose to do agriculture? It was quite funny because most  students, myself included, were asking ourselves the same question and for some I think they are still doing it. However, at that time I thought that there was a specific answer they were expecting to hear so, I kept searching for the right answer during my four years at the university. And guess what? There isn’t a right answer as to why you should start doing agriculture. You either do it because you need a job, because you came from a family where agriculture is a tradition or like me because you want and you can (you love it).

Coming from the city, I had no clue what agriculture meant. I thought that being a farmer meant only to grow the plants and animals for food and to sell products to markets. Well, I was so wrong.  I learned that being a farmer meant to wake up early every morning and go to sow the future. Our future and the next generation’s future. 

I don’t want to sound nostalgic speaking about memories, but I need to share this. When I decided to pursue agriculture, I was rebuffed with statements like ‘’this is a man’s job and  it is too hard. Choose something cleaner dear’’. I was speechless then but nowadays when I hear the same statements, I simply retaliate with; so who grows food for you to eat? I love to see the ensuing confusion on their faces.

And for those who still think that is ‘’a man’s job”, you should know that after my graduation, my first job was not in the supermarket (specific for the Romanian trend) rather it was in Biological research. Afterwards, I obtained a scholarship abroad to do my Masters in Science Programme in Sustainable IPM Technologies for Mediterranean Fruit and Vegetable crops, within the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari. And now I am doing research of possible nepoviruses infections on grapevines in Romania.

Ramona 1

A handful of trades is a handful of gold

To pursue a career in agriculture is not easy and it is not supposed to be . You have to learn how to love the soil and nature in general. You need the courage to get your hands dirty for good things ( and mostly tasty ones) are achieved through  hard work. 

As an agronomist you witness the miracle of crop life. This gives you hope and you feel that it’s more than a job for food is more than eating. It’s part of us, of our culture and a tradition of shared experience that unites people.

There is no more noble task than that of being able to feed people. Some of us are not even aware of how many people are starving daily. We are so used to having food on our tables, that we take it for granted and forget that food doesn’t just appear in supermarkets rather it  is grown within complex systems. It is time we started caring for each other, and think about tomorrow, by appreciating our food sources and being conscious consumers and sustainable producers.

Behind the myth

I think that agriculture’s problem is the image created around it. For the majority of the world’s youth, farming simply isn’t seen as being “cool” or attractive. Most think of it only as back-breaking labor, without a satisfactory salary and small chances for career advancement. This inaccurate perception of agriculture is creating a barrier that bars young people from pursuing careers in this field. That’s why we need to find a way to attract young people and make them excited about agriculture. They are an essential part in agriculture and they need to be encouraged and motivated to learn.

YPARD finds young people sharing a common vision towards agricultural development and connects them by providing  a voice and a platform to make a change within the younger generations. As a young agricultural professional this is what I want to promote in my country Romania, the idea of empowering young people to become leaders in their communities and become more active in agriculture. If the educational system supports this idea, we will have prepared young people with skills, knowledge and technology background ready to build a prosperous future.

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I believe that agriculture was meant to be my destiny and I am grateful for being inspired to pursue a career in science. If I had to choose all over again, I would without a doubt  and a second thought choose agriculture. I love being an agronomist. It gives me  enormous sense of job satisfaction and achievement.

In life we reap what we sow, So let’s all sow a more sustainable agriculture today for a better tomorrow. 

Testimonial by Ramona Mihaela Ciubotaru the YPARD Romania representative.

Photos Courtesy Ramona.