My name is Vanessa Giramata, I am a junior at Washington State University, studying Agricultural Economics. Growing up, my dad worked for an international company that worked with local farmers of rice. This was my first introduction to agriculture. I, like most people, especially back home, once believed that agriculture simply meant cultivating and harvesting crops for food. But through my dad, and his work, I learned it was much more than that. My curiosity grew as I wanted to know how our agriculture sector works.
In high school, I was blessed to attend Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST), where education was different than the norm in Rwanda. I was encouraged to think, to analyze, to dream big, and to be creative. It was at GGAST where I decided what I wanted to pursue in college, economics and agriculture. I really enjoyed these two subjects because I had always wanted to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of my country, and the because of my family, the agriculture industry was one that had always been on my mind.
I was honored to receive an agricultural scholarship to Washington State University through the Howard G Buffett Foundation. It is a privilege to have received this scholarship and I am thankful for my time at WSU which has provided me different opportunities to grow in my leadership skills and find my passion within the field. The classes and opportunities I have been given at Washington State University has taught me the vastness of what the industry has to offer, it has allowed me to think at a much deeper level about how I want to contribute to the industry and my country.
The agriculture industry is much broader than I originally realized; it needs engineers, economists, analysts, and so much more.
One amazing opportunity that broadened my mind of how in-depth this agricultural industry is, was the chance to attend the Agriculture Future of America Leaders’(AFA) conference. AFA is an organization that works on providing personal and professional development programs to college students and young professionals in agriculture. The program bridges the gap between academic, leadership and work experiences while helping students understand the impact of their decisions. Students are given the opportunity to network with peers and leaders in the agriculture industry as well as increase their excitement about the future of agriculture.
While at the conference I attended different seminars and workshops where I was exposed to different sides of the agriculture industry. During the conference, we talked about current and future problems that the industry faces. A classic example is the population rising at a higher rate than available food to feed them. It sounds very simple to solve…..just grow more food. However, there is limited land to grow on. In order to solve this problem, we must maximize the productivity of the land, but we also need to provide safe and healthy food. This healthy food also must be affordable…... and it has to make a profit. With all the additional costs the government might need to subsidize the farmers in order for them to stay in business. This could create, in turn, a government tax increase. This ripple effect goes on and on. As you can see, the issue requires more than one industry to partner with in to find an efficient solution.
Perhaps the thing I treasure the most out of this conference is these wise idea exchanges I had with other students that attended. I have begun to identify the role I want to play in order to contribute to my country. After graduating with a degree in Agricultural Economics, I plan on attending graduate school for a degree in public policy. I desire to work in policy analysis, to serve my country and to help develop policies that can be implemented to help Rwanda with a sustainable agricultural future that leads to food security. My generation is the next generation in service, and we need to be more driven and devoted to lead our world, to make it better. I believe a new and better change will begin as we work on one problem, one industry, and one country at a time. I will start with policies in the agriculture industry in Rwanda.
Where will you start?
- agriculture education
- Agriculture Future of America Leaders
- Food Security
- Washington State University