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Innovation Day 
November 4, 2019  
One hundred young people from 45 countries. Three days to change the world. One common ambition to end food insecurity and achieve zero hunger. The 2019 Youth Ag Summit got off to a flying start yesterday, with the topic of Innovation sparking debate, idea generation and creativity from the get go. Master of ceremonies and mathmaniac Simon Pampena kicked things off with a call to action that resonated across the room:

There are so many problems to solve; there is so much work to do. Pick a problem worth solving, a project that can create change – and it will take you places. People are waiting for you to do something and they don’t even know it yet.”
Our first agvocate speaker at the Summit was the President of the Crop Science Division of Bayer Liam Condon, who asked the delegates the most important question of all: what are you going to do to leave the world a little better than you found it?
Liam spoke about the Crop Science Division of Bayer's purpose of shaping agriculture to benefit farmers, consumers and our planet, but also called on the delegates to spend time during the Summit reflecting on their purpose, challenging them to find what gives them energy and makes them excited. 
Rodrigo Santos, Head of Crop Science for Bayer Latin America, reinforced Liam’s call for purpose by honing in on the importance of innovation in bringing together production and preservation in agriculture: in short, producing more, but using fewer natural resources. He shared the incredible story of how, in less than half a century, Brazil went from being a net importer of food to one of the world’s largest agricultural producers – with digital agriculture and innovation playing a major part in this journey. 
“Agriculture is at the center of the 17 SDGs - if you are looking for a purpose, looking to make a difference, agriculture can do that.”
Rodrigo Santos, Head of Crop Science, Bayer LATAM
Rodrigo was joined on stage by two Latin American Youth Ag Summit alumni, Felipe Sandoval from Colombia and Leticia Marques from Brazil. Asked by Simon about the greatest opportunities for the region, both agreed that Latin America’s huge biodiversity was something to be cherished, but also noted the importance of thinking about sustainability not just as being about the planet, but also about people – and how it can tackle social inequalities and poverty in rural areas.
“Agriculture provides a livelihood for over one billion people around the world and these are often the most vulnerable people. We need to focus on achieving SDG #8 too: providing decent work and economic growth for the people who produce our food.”
Felipe Sandoval, YAS alumnus
Our keynote speaker for Day 1 was Sara Menker, Founder and CEO of data analytics and intelligence company Gro Intelligence. She shared her story of leaving a career on Wall Street to start a business aimed at putting information into the hands of farmers around the world. Sara’s own experience of a non-linear innovation process made her the perfect person to remind our delegates of some of the key principles for innovation: an openness to being wrong and to hearing feedback, a willingness to fail, and most importantly, the ability to hear “no” and ask, “but why not?”
“Innovation is rarely ever welcomed with open arms by everyone. Creating anything that matters, that challenges the status quo, means that you are going to be faced with naysayers.”
Sara Menker, CEO, Gro Intelligence 
Gustavo Gross Belchior took the delegates through 12,000 years of agricultural history in three minutes – and then some! Talking about the science behind gene editing, he explained how the red thread through time has been information – and how living information is the key to modern agriculture. 
When it comes to telling the story of innovation - and why your idea matters - communication is key. Understanding how best to work with others is vital when to success. Susan Hite took our delegates through a crash course on understanding their communication 'shape'. 
After lunch, the work didn't stop. Delegates were introduced to a range of agricultural businesses and Bayer partners in the Sustainable Success Marketplace, meeting with representatives from the Brazilian Cotton Producers Association (Abrapa), Nuffield Brazil, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Orbia.org, IICA, PariPassu, Pepsico, The Climate Corporation, and Bayer Sustainability. After that it was straight into Breakout Sessions, with delegates getting started on honing the Thrive for Change Projects that brought them to the Summit in the first place. The day wrapped up with an authentic Brazilian dinner and dance party, with our delegates taking the opportunity to turn up in their national dress! 
Follow plenary sessions from the 2019 Youth Ag Summit LIVE
See more pictures from Day 1 of the Youth Ag Summit here
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