At a panel at the World Food Prize on Wednesday, Monsanto President and Chief Commercial Officer Brett Begemann called upon attendees to speak out in support of agriculture and realize that now is a great time to be involved in agriculture.
“I think we should declare at this dialogue, that for the next Borlaug century, that agriculture is sexy," Begemann said. "I can't imagine a single industry in the world that's more exciting than agriculture is today. We need to get the message out."
Earlier in the day, another panelist, Mpule Kwelagobe, the director of the MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development, was asked how to attract more youth—especially women—into agricultural careers. She suggested too many young people don't consider agriculture a "sexy" field.
Begemann participated on a panel, "Research and Returns: The Future of Agricultural Technology & Investment," with Rob Aukerman of Elanco Animal Health, Jim Borel of DuPont and Victor Villalobos of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. University of California-Davis professor Martina Newell-McGloughlin moderated the discussion.
Begemann, who grew up on a farm and has spent his entire career in agriculture, says the challenge is to inspire more young people to consider agricultural careers by telling the story of innovation with ag science.
"We're going to need more innovation in agriculture, not less innovation in agriculture," Begemann said. "It will take all of us all over the world. Innovation is important at both levels of the smallholder and commercial farmer."
Regarding consumer engagement, Begemann said he has experienced an increased interest in agriculture and food production from consumers--and that's a good thing.
"There are far more consumers interested in agriculture today than when I started in agriculture 30 years ago," Begemann said. "They haven't been involved with it, and it's a complex system," but he noted that Monsanto and those in agriculture are open to discussions and having a dialogue.