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April 18, 2018

Felix Kwame Yeboah: Creating the next generation of agricultural experts 

April 18, 2018

Felix Kwame Yeboah, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics is the lead author of the 2018 Global Food Security Report and presented the report at the Global Food Security Symposium in Washington D.C. on March 22, 2018. 

I grew up in a rural, agrarian community in Ghana. I spent a significant share of my weekends and vacations on the family farm, helping with various farming activities, and I felt the laborious and low-return nature of farming. That’s when I resolved that a profession in agriculture was never an option for me.

However, when I encountered extreme poverty in underserved and resource-deprived communities in Ghana during service trips while in college, I realized agriculture still needed to be a big part of my career path.

For the first time in my life, I was making a real difference in the lives of others, and I wanted to do more. The extreme poverty in those communities aroused my interest in searching for effective poverty reduction strategies. That search for solutions led me to graduate studies at MSU, where I unexpectedly learned that agriculture, the sector I was fleeing from, held the key for immense poverty reduction and inclusive economic transformation. I then devoted my career to help rural communities, specifically its young people, see that agriculture can bring them jobs, food security and a way out of poverty.

Since then, I have published and conducted considerable amounts of research in the area of youth livelihood and agriculture and have served as one of the principal authors of the Agrifood Youth Employment and Engagement Study.

As a result of my knowledge, experience and passion, I was asked to serve as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Food Security Report’s lead author, an opportunity that AFRE University Foundation Professor and AAEA Fellow Thomas Jayne helped to facilitate.

A key message of the 2018 Global Food Security report is that youth livelihoods in low and middle-income countries largely depend on the successful transformation of agriculture, and agricultural and economic transformation will require strong youth engagement to succeed. Simply put, young people need agriculture, and agriculture needs young people.

I attribute a lot of my success to the relationships I’ve built as a Spartan, and the opportunities a leading agricultural economics department at the pioneer land grant university has provided. I’m surrounded by experts on the cutting-edge of knowledge, who inspire and guide me toward my career goals daily. Those connections, paired with the university's long history of engagement in Africa, has created a supportive culture for the international development work I do.

While at MSU, I will continue to build my career in pursuit of transforming the lives of young people and rural communities globally, based in AFRE's Food Security Group and Feed the Future's Food Security Innovation Lab. There is so much potential in young people around the world, to change the world. And I want to unlock that potential.

Reused with revisions and permission from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources