The student who wants to mitigate hunger

July 17, 2017

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Published in General News

By: Sandra Gutiérrez P.

Juan Pablo Casadiego Guevara can be considered as a usual boy. He studies his last semesters of Management at Universidad de los Andes. He just turned 22 years old and is the eldest of three brothers. He likes to dance, to cook French cuisine, to learn foreign languages, to visit his grandparents on weekends and to do sports. He also makes part of the swimming team of the Alma Mater.

He will be the only uniandino and one of the two Colombians, who will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to represent the country in the Global Youth Ag-Summit, to be held in October.

Bayer Agricultural Education, through 30 Colombian universities and the social media, called for young people (between 18 and 25 years old) who had innovative ideas that can help preventing one of the most important challenges of the century: To feed a starving planet through sustainable agriculture. After a meticulous selection process, which includes Spanish and English interviews, and among almost 1200 applications, Juan Diego's essay named "Armed conflict, poverty and famine, an interrelated problem" (Conflicto armado, pobreza y hambruna, un fenómeno interrelacionado) was selected to represent Uniandes and the country.

Juan Pablo says that it was simple to find out about the competition: he just read an email sent from the Student Deanship (Decanatura de Estudiantes) and he immediately got very motivated. "It was not only the perspective to travel and know Brussels, which is the capital of the world, but also to think about the contribution we can make to Colombia from a vital topic, especially in a post-conflict phase", said Casadiego.

The assignment was not easy. He had to find a new idea that can solve a local problematic that also contributes to the country. "I started to think that it's necessary a peaceful environment to mitigate the famine, because if there is no peace, there will be no sustainable spaces. That's why I understood that there is a close relation between the malnutrition and famine with the conflict."

"I find out that the Colombian problem, that has affected the countryside, is the violence," and after this analysis came the essay 'Armed conflict, poverty and famine, an interrelated problem'. The essay it's based on two theses. Casadiego claimed that "the armed country create two problems: the internal displacement and the lack of investment, because no one would like to invest in a population (urban or rural) with this type of conflict. This creates poverty because people who work in the countryside come to the city and increase the chains of misery. Here is where I found the first reason that prevents the supply of basic needs like food. It is complex, although it seems simple".

This is why to this young Colombian "is fundamental for generating a social impact, to develop peaceful spaces that can help sustainable agriculture and to strengthen the job between public and private institutions and the organizations from the third sector. But it is also important to sort out the root of the problem."

Juan Pablo explained that part of his concerns emerged when he finished the Public Management module in his School of Management curriculum. "That was the class that made me concern about the role of the private entities. Because you can see that the actors in the production chains of a company affect the society. From the private point of view there is a strong social element, because the responsibilities of the solutions for the public issues (like famine) are not exclusively of the State". Casadiego also ensures that "the public management from the private sector is something that the companies have to reconsider nowadays".

Juan Pablo is one of the 100 brilliant young leaders, from 49 countries, that will take part in the Global Young Ag-Summit. The event will be held from October 9th to 13th in Brussels, Belgium. With his participation, Juan Pablo is looking to generate a synergy with leaders from countries with armed conflict so he can observe their problems and investigate the origins of the disputes and look for the differences in opening peaceful spaces; in land restitution; job creation; the countryside modernization; and in the possibility of returning the displacement groups to their regions. "Colombia is on his way, there is hope" ensures Casadiego.

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