Working in agriculture: Don’t let theory obscure complex reality on the ground

There are professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, including private sector agriculture, working in food security today.

Daniel White, associate director of agriculture at ACDI/VOCA, pointed to the example of one of his coworkers — and one of the most dynamic minds looking at rice and maize marketing in East Africa — who has a degree in art history.

Whether Peace Corps or private sector, the most important thing for a career in the sector is to find a way to spend some time in the field, he said. It’s important to have the opportunity to understand not only a smallholder farmer’s link in a value chain, but also his or her day-to-day life and habits.

“We are in a very different socioeconomic system...oftentimes the theory can start to obscure the complex reality on the ground,” White said of work in Washington.

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    Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Bangkok, she covers disaster and crisis response, innovation, women’s rights, and development trends throughout Asia. Prior to her current post, she covered leadership, careers, and the USAID implementer community from Washington, D.C. Previously, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.

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