I remember the morning I was leaving my home, my child, my dairy farm in our village in India to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa to attend the GCARD3 event. Though I was excited to attend this global event on agriculture–it is my passion to which I have been completely dedicated for the last five years—I also felt worried and guilty, as I was leaving behind my one and a half year-old who I knew would miss me during my ten days abroad.
The woman part of me had kept me strong in the toughest situations and challenges I faced as a dairy farmer and entrepreneur. But being a mother had many a times challenged my soul and my spirits, as my involvement in agriculture meant being away from my child.
Then I met Peter Casier at the GCARD3 Social Media Bootcamp. The moment I saw him I felt motivated and inspired, as he not only appreciated my work, the blogposts that I write, but he could make out merely by looking at me that I was probably missing my child a lot. Peter encouraged me that this is completely normal and reminded me that women will have to come forward for the betterment of society.
And when I met our Youth Agripreneurs Project mentor and coordinator, Michelle Kovacevic, all my fears were dispelled. Always carrying a beautiful smile and strong courage with her, she was the one who made it possible to bring all of us YAP finalists to the conference held at Johannesburg. I remember how hard Michelle worked to keep the five of us engaged to get the most out of the trainings she had organised for us. She used her creative skills so that we could get the maximum out of the two-day YAP workshop. She motivated each one of us to do the best in our respective projects, ensured we worked together as a great team and created such a positive work environment for us.
Michelle helped us believe that we are amongst the rare young people who have opted for the most neglected sector—agriculture—and therefore we should make the best use of our abilities to positively impact our societies through our work.
In these moments I started feeling free from my constant guilt of being a busy mother. The Workshop brought tremendous confidence in me. I will treasure this experience for life.
And how can I not mention the fabulous team of very inspiring Young Agripreneurs (Jony Girma from Ethiopia, Lillian Beauttah from Kenya, Kellyann Allicott from Barbados, Josine Macaspac from Phillipines and Anil Regmi from Nepal) who instilled faith in me that there are young, educated, passionate people out there in different corners of the world who are willing to change the future of agriculture and society for the better. We Youth Agripreneurs have developed great a bond among ourselves, and it is such a great feeling. The best thing about this team is that even though we are from different parts of the world, we related to each other extremely well, speaking the common language of “Sustainable Agriculture”.
The people I met at the Conference were highly motivated, focused people all willing to make a positive impact on agriculture and society at large. This made me realise that I am so lucky to have been in a place which gave me inner strength, tremendous hope and courage to constantly work on my bigger life goal: to do maximum good for a maximum number of people.
I felt I was home.
This completely liberated me from all my fears and guilt and transformed me into a person who is much stronger and committed to her endeavour to do the best for agriculture and dairy in India.
I am very excited to work on my project on developing climate resilient indigenous Gir cattle breed which has shown its potential for superior milk yields and disease-resistance in tropical countries such as Brazil. This is a completely new area that I will be working on as these brilliant cattle have unfortunately been ignored in India by our policy makers.
I will be travelling to another state in Western India called Gujarat which is the breeding tract of this cattle to purchase the selected best cows. I am confident that my work on this breed will lay a strong foundation for India’s dairy industry in time to come.
I am looking forward to putting forth my best effort to realize this crucial project. I give my special thanks to the donor who is funding my project, as without the seed funding it would have taken me much more time to begin efforts in this direction.
Watch Nikki introduce her project at the #GCARD3 conference:
Blogpost by Nikki Chaudhary, Indian dairy farmer (chaudharyfarms(at)gmail.com), one of six finalists in the Youth Agripreneurs Project, a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”), co-organized by GFAR and YPARD. The YAP Finalists launched their projects during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016.
Read the original YAP proposal here.