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  • Writer's pictureRoger Tripathi

Women in Agriculture: Second Edition

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

Welcome to the Global BioAg Linkages "Women in Agriculture" Series, 2nd edition:

"My Global Friends, At Global BioAg Linkages (GBAL), we launched a women in agriculture campaign a few months ago to highlight the achievements and various roles of women globally, especially in the BioAgriculture segment. Even though, agriculture is an industry which is dominated by men, the role of women has become significant in various leadership roles. It feels now as if women’s roles in agriculture are mainstream, they are not junior partners of men in agriculture business.

GBAL therefore will continue the quarterly series of articles and interviews focused solely on women who are impacting the industry, in leadership roles.

The global leaders, we are covering in this edition are all powerful women who have made huge differences in the industry in various fields of Agriculture industry. Together, we are thrilled to highlight women in agriculture, to have these ladies serve as inspirations for the generations to come. We hope you enjoy this read."


Madam Ma Chunyan

If you had to explain to a younger woman, how you succeeded in your career, what would you tell this person?

If you talk to the younger generation about my attitude towards my career, it is actually the word "love". It is to love your career and find the fun in the hard work. When you truly love the industry of your work, you will always feel that there is a mysterious force that will push you to overcome all kinds of difficulties. When you love your job, you will devote yourself to it. The more you pay, the more you gain.

Agriculture has been dominated by men and women have played a supportive role. Do Women have an advantage in this field primarily since they have a deeper insight into “FOOD” and “HEALTH” of the family? a woman is indeed inherently sensitive to food and health, I often feel a responsibility that cannot be shirked. I hope that human beings will get rid of hunger and hope that children can grow up healthily. Grains and food are safe, vegetables and fruits are green and delicious.

Carmel Ingram

*While Carmel wasn't available for a direct Q&A just having won the Women in Horticulture Award and was overwhelmed with interviews, she did allow us to use the questions and answers from another interview.

What gives you the confidence to go forward in your work and personal growth?

It’s no surprise that I have been inspired by strong, hard-working women my whole life – especially my own mother. My father died when my mother was just 43 years old, with six young children to raise. She knew what it was like to work hard. She taught us all about hard work and all six of us have taken it on board. It’s in my character,

This sense of family is important to me. With four couples involved in running the business, our cooperation and unity is one of my proudest achievements. You work together, you live within five minutes of each other and we get asked a lot ‘How do you function together?’ We just do. We’ve never had an argument. It’s an accomplishment in itself.

What is your deep belief for [the] next generations?

I am excited to see the next generation of family members return to the family business. My husband and I have encouraged our three children to pursue their own interests in study and careers outside of the farm. It is so important that they go away, do their own thing, work for another employer. But I am thrilled when the next generation shows an interest in returning. One of my two daughters has recently returned to the family farm, working in quality control, and my son is looking to join the business as well. The farm is instilled in them and it’s a proud moment when they want to come back.

What do you want to see for the future of younger women in their career path?

A: I would like to see more support for women in horticulture, with flexible working hours for mothers and promoting careers for women in the horticulture industry as a worthwhile path. I see mentorship and support amongst women in the industry through initiatives like Women in Horticulture, as a way to continue to see women progress through the industry.

What would be your advice for other women in horticulture?

“Love and enjoy what you’re doing,”

Diana Ocampo

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a female leader in bio agriculture and how have you overcome these challenges?

My career didn’t start in the bioag industry. I personally see this as one of my strengths. I had the opportunity during my early career to work for Global 100 Fortune companies in the areas of Finances and Marketing. These companies put a lot of focus to support women and diversity. My early years prepared me for some of these challenges and I am very thankful that I got to be trained by some of the best companies, who invest a lot in their people.

This foundation helped me through my process in the BioAg industry.

Finding the Right Work-Life Balance. This is a real topic for a lot of businesswomen not just in the agriculture industry. I do see a lot of work and effort from several companies to have a more work-life balance environment. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to create DoGlobal and to collaborate with GBAL and being able to have more flexibility. The best way to overcome a challenge is to create your own opportunity.

If you had to explain to a younger woman, how you succeeded in your career, what would you tell this person?

...Some advice to younger and driven women who want to be part of this industry:

Find your voice and passion: Our careers go through different stages. So finding your WHY is a must in this industry. Because it may not be for everybody. What motivates you to wake up every day in whatever you choose to do. Whatever you do, you need to be passionate about it. This conviction and desire will help you through the ups and downs in your own career. This is very important. You need to fuel yourself through your own process. Finding your voice in your career will help you to be aligned with what truly matters to you and align yourself with a collective team/organization who get your voice and passion.

Having the right mentors and network is critical whether you are an intrapreneur (within an organization) or an entrepreneur (with your own business) if you want to succeed in this industry. Teamwork and collaboration are critical to succeed. You can’t do it alone. Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation.

In addition, having a constant desire to learn. This industry is changing fast, so we need to embrace the journey and speed up the process by actively learning. You need some specific technical skills to be able to navigate the nuances of this industry, especially if you have a background different than agriculture. The only way you can succeed is if you put the effort and commitment to being a lifelong bioag student. During my years in this industry, I have put a lot of effort and personal time into learning. This has made a big difference to me. Being able to understand the value chain of agriculture, the stakeholders, their needs and motivations.

What has been your main motivation to become a leader in bio agriculture?

As a local-global entrepreneur, woman and mom of two little girls, I am thankful for being able to be part of an industry where I get to contribute to the world in a very positive way. It all comes back to my ‘Why.’ What moves me through action in my day to day in this industry? The way I define success now is very aligned to Global and Local causes where I can have an impact. Not just recognition. I see myself as a passionate agent of change in the bio agriculture industry. Through my work I get to work with others to shape the business vision of innovative companies that want to make a big contribution in the industry in a way that is sustainable with the environment and the people. For me this is very meaningful. Not just for me , but also as a legacy for our future generations.

What made you start your own business/career in bio agriculture?

I grew up on a farm, back in South America. I spent a lot of my time in the field. The best memories ever. I am farmer/grower by heart. I got to see from my father who was a farmer as well, to work very hard operating his farm. I have a lot of respect for growers who are the ones doing the work so we all can eat. Even though I didn’t start my career in this field, the opportunity came when I moved to Canada, and I decided to join a bioag company. Because of my childhood, and having grown up in an agriculture environment, working in this field was for me like going back to my roots. It was a very safe decision.

Do you have any goals you still want to achieve? Which are those and how do you want to get there?

Yes. I am very motivated to continue helping bioag innovators to succeed in their entrepreneurial journey. I do see the potential in some of these innovation models. My career in the bioag industry is a journey and I am here for the long run.

Denise Manker

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a female leader in Bio Agriculture and how have you overcome these challenges?

It can be intimidating to be a minority in any situation. That started for me as a Chemistry major in college, then as a PhD student at Scripps Oceanography, both male-dominated at that time. This is still true in agriculture today so it’s important to stick to your principles and make sure your voice and opinions are heard. Your ideas are important so don’t give up. It helps if you like challenges.

If you had to explain to a younger woman, how you succeeded in your career, what would you tell this person?

I believe that persistence is a very important characteristic for succeeding in any career. There will always be obstacles and challenges on any path but having that willingness to see these as a way to grow and learn and never give up will help you achieve your goals. Set goals and make a plan to work towards them. Find something that you really believe in and that inspires you and you will be successful.

What has been your main motivation to become a leader in Bio Agriculture?

I am personally very motivated by the environment and I believe that we can do many things differently in large scale agricultural production that will not only leave the planet in a better state but also increase production and efficiency. This means using all the tools at our disposal including cover cropping, no till practices and also using microbial products to improve efficiency for plants and protect them against pests and diseases. The more we can apply these techniques to conventional, large scale farming, the bigger impact we can have on the planet.

What made you start your own business/career in Bio Agriculture?

Sometimes unexpected changes can lead to new beginnings. My first job after my postdoc was at Novo Nordisk Entotech in Davis California which had a BT business and a biopesticide discovery unit. A change in direction for the parent company resulted in our division being sold to Abbott in Chicago after five years. This seemed like an end, but out of that, AgraQuest was started up under the leadership of Pam Marrone along with a few scientists from Entotech. This gave us a chance to decide how we wanted to build this new company as a small team and we also felt that we were directly responsible for the success or failure for our ambitions. Twenty-four years later, all of the scientists involved are still working to change agriculture through developing biological products at a number of different companies.

Do you have any goals you still want to achieve? Which are those and how do you want to get there?

I think that one opportunity that we have missed as an industry is helping the general public understand where their food comes from and what it takes to produce food. We must embrace all kinds of technologies to deal with the challenges we are facing, and we need to help people understand why and how we are doing this. As a member of the science community, we are clearly missing the mark in communicating science and technology and the huge differences we can make using everything available to feed the world and leave the planet a better place. I am getting more involved in outreach and communications about crop science from elementary level through to adults and I think we need as many scientists as possible to get involved in activities like these.

Agriculture has been dominated by men and women have played a supportive role. Do Women have an advantage in this field primarily since they have a deeper insight into “FOOD” and “HEALTH” of the family?

I think any field will benefit from diversity. Women make up about 50% of the population. Why would you ever leave that much brainpower out of an equation for solving problems? In general, women make more decisions about what the family is going to eat and health choices so getting outreach and information to this group can certainly be influential. I’m not sure women have an advantage, but I do know that we are different and having multiple approaches and ways of thinking will always get you to a better outcome.


We hope you enjoyed reading more about the leaders and examplars of the industry.

Special thanks to GBAL colleagues, specially Sabine for conducting these in-depth interviews. Please Stay tuned for the opening of our "Women in Agriculture" entry submission portal. We welcome global nominations for inspiring women in agriculture.

Thank you for reading and supporting women in agriculture!

Roger Tripathi, CEO of Global BioAg Linkages

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