Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader Rachel Anderson: Insights on infrastructure

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - 5:00pm

GFC Emerging Leader Rachel Anderson, ‘19 with fellow traveler and CFANS staff member Mohammed Yakub, Ph.D.

Mechanical Engineering major Rachel Anderson, ’19 is part of the year-long Land O’Lakes’ Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders program, working with Land O’Lakes to find new ways to feed the world using fewer resources. Anderson, who had never travelled abroad before, was among the U of M students who traveled to South Africa and Tanzania in June. Their goal was to learn more about hunger, agriculture, and sustainability.

During the trip, Anderson observed differences between Tanzania and the U.S. “In Tanzania, I was surprised to see the juxtaposition of high tech with underdeveloped infrastructure. Most people have smartphones and TVs, yet cook over a wood-fire stove in a dirt hut. The culture around agriculture in Tanzania is different than it is in the U.S.,” she says. “[In Tanzania] agriculture is a livelihood for a much larger percent of the population. The goal of the farmer isn't to feed hundreds of thousands of people, it’s to feed their family and their neighbors.”

“Transportation is a challenge,” she continues. “Their road system is underdeveloped and the infrastructure is rough. Many farmers have to travel many miles each day, if not by foot, then by motorcycle, while trying to balance their milk on the back wheel.”

“Without having this opportunity, I would never have known the role engineering plays in agriculture and food security. My experience at Land O'Lakes has taught me how engineering can further develop agriculture in the U.S., but this showed me it can have an even  greater impact in other countries.”

Photo courtesy of Rachel Anderson