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Agricultural economics senior finds solutions while crossing border

“I really gained a deeper appreciation for agriculture and the fact that it’s not just about the exchange of food, it’s also about the exchange of ideas,” Zebediah Davis, a senior in agricultural economics, said, describing his experience at the Youth Ag Summit in Brasilia, Brazil.

Davis recently returned from the annual summit, which hosted 100 youths from 45 different countries and focused on how to feed an expanding global population. The conference’s program aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals as it facilitated a cross-cultural exchange of experiences and ideas.

Davis, who grew up on a farm in Reynolds, IN, said it was eye-opening to discover how farmers around the world approach agriculture differently.


“I think sometimes we can get stuck in our own silos and forget the international aspect of agriculture,” Davis added. “One attendee I met lives on a farm in the Philippines that is one acre and grows rice. That’s very different than the farming environment I’m familiar with, but at the end of the day everyone in agriculture is just finding the best way to feed their family and their community.”

The delegates visited a farm of SLC Agrícola, one of the largest agricultural producers in the country. Davis said he was surprised to discover the farm using technologies and sustainable practices he has not witnessed in the U.S. “There were a lot of similarities in terms of irrigation and fertilizer management systems,” Davis continued.

“But there were some differences I noticed. Brazil seems much more focused on sustainability and that is evident in many different sectors, not just agriculture. Also, you really take for granted infrastructure in the U.S. until you travel to Brazil. They don’t have the roads and railroad systems we are used to.”

Increasing awareness about global hunger and better understanding how other cultures approach agriculture is key to feeding the world now and in the future, and events like the Youth Ag Summit help facilitate this, Davis observed, especially since the younger generations will be confronted with the insecurity and devastation of global hunger.

“The summit really refueled my passion for agriculture and innovation. We can’t be blind to the things happening outside our immediate 60-mile radius, especially when it comes to agriculture.”

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