Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader Audrey Sebastian reflects on trip to Africa

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 11:15am

Audrey Sebastian helps to build an addition to the village school in Arusha, Tanzania.

Audrey Sebastian, ’19, a mechanical engineering major, traveled to South Africa and Tanzania in June with the Land O’Lakes’ Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders program to learn more about hunger, agriculture, and sustainability. During the year-long program, program participants work with Land O’Lakes to find new ways to feed the world using fewer resources.

In Tanzania, Sebastian observed the challenges of the farmers: ​“We saw a lot of small subsistence farms in local villages. Their challenges aren't a whole lot different than ours. The farms there are extremely dependent on factors that are outside their control, such as weather and market access. In the United States, we have access to reliable irrigation systems. In Tanzania, many people cannot afford to irrigate their crops, and so their yield depends entirely on rain.”

In the U.S., dairy and agriculture co-ops play a huge role in the agronomic supply chain distribution. In Africa, she says, “We were fortunate enough to see a private-public partnership where Land O'Lakes is helping educate dairy farmers about the benefits of artificial insemination for their cows. Land O'Lakes is doing a good job of  providing education, then removing their influence, in order to allow the business to sustain itself.”

After returning, Sebastian reflected on her trip: “I realized the privilege we have in the United States. We are in a position to help the entire world, and sometimes I feel we aren't doing as much as we should be. I also realized that even when we feel we are living uncomfortably, we still have immensely more than many people around the world, and that's something we should be grateful for.”

Photo courtesy of Audrey Sebastian