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Agribusiness offers leadership opportunities for women

A Kansas State University agricultural economist is optimistic about agriculture, which, he claims, “is the only business that will not go out of business.”

He’s also enthusiastic about opportunities for women to fulfill leading roles in the success of agribusiness. As a featured speaker at the recent edition of the “Women Managing the Farm Conference” in Manhattan, Kan., Vincent Amanor-Boadu challenged the more than 200 women attending the conference to be creative and think like entrepreneurs.

Amanor-Boadu, a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics in the College of Agriculture at K-State, sees opportunity for Kansans and agribusiness.

“In the U.S., in the last 60 to 70 years, agriculture has proven to be the most productive segment of the economy,” Amanor-Boadu said. “Input has remained virtually the same, yet production has more than doubled.”

He cited politics, technology (including improved seed, genetics and equipment), and globalization as primary factors in driving growth in agribusiness.

Amanor-Boadu expects continuing growth with new opportunities, and noted that “the consumer is changing, and demanding more from food producers.”

As global consumers enjoy increased economic success—with China moving toward achieving about $5,000 per capita income per year—they typically consume more protein, and that includes lean meats. Those who prefer whole grains consume more grains and are demanding higher quality grains, he said.

Kansas is positioned to capitalize on the trends, said Amanor-Boadu, who predicted that there will be more opportunities for women to lead agribusinesses.

More women than men are currently going to college; they’re learning about agribusiness, building leadership skills, and moving into leadership and management positions, he said.

More women are choosing careers in agriculture, and they may work as food producers, farm and ranch managers, in crops, soils, plant, animal, food and nutritional sciences, horticulture, new product development, strategic planning, marketing, management, and other careers.

The need to satisfy preferences in a changing world, yet serve the growing world population that will bring opportunities, said Amanor-Boadu, who suggested successful agribusiness professionals also need to be open to new ideas.

“Opportunities for growth and development should be plentiful,” he said, adding that he encourages women to consider the larger global market, learn to identify emerging trends and glean ideas from others’ successes.

He cited innovative technology companies that have a track record of introducing new products and success in sales as a good source for inspiration and ideas that could be applicable in agribusiness.

Amanor-Boadu also encouraged women to take advantage of educational opportunities at K-State and in the College of Agriculture.

One example, he said, is the MAST Program in Agricultural Economics. MAST stands for management, analysis, and strategic thinking, via an executive level class that combines on-campus sessions with distance education. Participants are encouraged to apply such lessons in today’s world while also looking toward the future, and to build and practice leadership skills during the two-year program.

More information on the 2013-14 MAST program is available at www.agmanager.info/mast/.

Women should also attend short courses and field days, as well as K-State’s annual Ag Profitability and Risk and Profit conferences to expand their knowledge about farm and land management and production, the agricultural economist said.

Date: 5/13/2013

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