The reason that man’s improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques that the land has become dependent on them.
I am Andrea Catalina Fajardo and I am an international citizen even though I must get a visa to almost every country I visit.
Last week I attended a debate event about issues in the Global South. There I could learn two main things: Despite all the corruption problems and unfair situations that many Africans live they are able to meet to bring solutions to their continent; and these kinds of environmental and social initiatives can be extrapolated to the rest of countries that are part also of the Global South.
This is exactly what I want to do: Working in international cooperation in Latin-America and the Caribbean to bring empowerment to their poor population and sustainability in social and environmental terms.
It goes without saying that each country has its particular difficulties and social conditions and pre-fabricated solutions are not an answer. Taking decisions or formulating policies without having the right data and information is a problem that we are facing nowadays. This, in the end, keeps such communities in an unbreakable poor cycle.
Before I used to not think about this since I was working in the fungicides manufacturing and formulation industry back home in Barranquilla, Colombia. Even though, my interest in this subject emerged after being about two years at Dow Chemical and Uniphos facilities. From this background, I could understand the pesticides chemistry, as well as, their application and environmental and social consequences.
It is undeniable that those companies are quite successful in selling synthesized pesticides. However, these are chemicals that degrade soil, making it more dependent on them. This situation is unfortunate for small local producers that are using these pesticides since they already must face entrenched poverty in their every day lives. Because of this, they cannot be major players in the local economy. Then, I started to seek for methodologies to grow food that ensure food sovereignty, fair trade and environmental preservation. And as is mentioned in the Fukuoka quote, I personally believe that we have entered in a cycle, which is unsustainable in the long-term.
So, after acquiring that experience and consciousness, I decided to get involved in more harmonious solutions in the agricultural sector. Thus, I quit my job and started over in a different context and city. I began this journey by taking a theoretical and practical course on Ecological Agriculture and Soil Biology at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, located in Bogotá, Colombia. This training allowed me to realize that removing all kinds of different living organisms on the crop of interest is not a sustainable form of food production. To gain practical experience, I have decided to participate in volunteer projects of ecological conversion in different degraded farmlands to make them more productive and sustainable. As part of my course I have had the chance to harvest lettuces twice larger than those bought in supermarkets while they were grown in an ecological basis. As in my volunteering, I have worked on the design of ecological orchards for organizations that help vulnerable children to ensure a healthier feeding and recover degraded lands. And because of that, I know it is possible to do ecological farming on soils where there was no hope to grow anything on them.
To continue this journey, I came to Germany to study my international masters at Hohenheim University in Environmental Protection and Agricultural Food Production. There I have learned about similar issues in other latitudes and possible applied solutions or mitigation strategies. In these two years I have not only built my technical skills, but also developed my cooperation and leadership abilities in one student group at the university called FRESH (Food Revitalization Society of Hohenheim) where we work in sustainability and food waste issues to bring awareness and to apply environmental actions at the university and surroundings. In the group I am also admin of our Facebook group in which I add events, update the information about what we do and post interesting information to reach even more people outside University.
Moreover, I had the opportunity to make an internship in a solar energy, where I conducted simulations to optimise the best solar module and batteries combination in terms of costs and performance for different localisations for the European REvivED Project. In this project I could learn about a novel technology to desalinate water using electricity powered by solar energy. Although, I completed my internship there I still work with in this project to install one of this water desalination plants in Colombia.
Therefore, my passion is working from now in projects to solve environmental issues using renewable energies in an international environment focused in the region I come from. I want to develop as social revolutionary and influencer to empower those people that were not given the same opportunities due to the corruption that is killing our Latin-American countries.
I want to be part of the GLF Youth Ambassador Program because this will me give even more tools to reach other latitudes to the world and make useful contacts to work in potential cooperation projects related to environmental protection with sustainable food production in developing regions. I bring my passion, motivation, high social skills together with technical knowledge and my experience in design thinking methodology to ideate new solutions out of our comfort zones. Let me be a part of it and transform our world together!
Name, nationality and age: Andrea Catalina Fajardo, Colombian 27
Country in which you currently live: Germany
Which organization you work for, or which university you study at: Hohenheim University
Your mother tongue: Spanish
Other languages you are fluent in: English, German