Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2017 Contents SUNDAY 19 MARCH, 2017 -- UWI TODAY 13
SUPERHERO of the SOIL
Alpha Sennon brings creativity and passionate advocacy to agriculture
BY DIXIE ANN BELLE
issue of world food. "We want young people to take on this
challenge and feed this country, feed the world by 2050."
Dr. Wayne Ganpat, Dean of the Faculty of Food and
Agriculture at the St. Augustine Campus, approves of his
approach. "Alpha's goal is to popularise agriculture among
young people. He is transferring the message that it is a
e WHYFARM team has been going into schools, and
the response has been keen as they bring "agri-edutainment"
into the classroom. It is not just a talk, but a captivating
performance featuring AGRIman. Later on the school gets
to visit an actual farm where Sennon o en hears students
exclaiming that they didn't know agriculture could be
like this. WHYFARM also has an online fan club where
youngsters can suggest new stories and characters for the
AGRIman comic book.
Like a kind of AGRIman himself, Sennon has been
roaming around the world talking about his organisation
and exploring new approaches. "Everywhere he goes Alpha
is a good ambassador for Trinidad and Tobago, a good
ambassador for UWI and a good ambassador for the Faculty
of Food and Agriculture," observes Dr. Ganpat.
Sennon has been a guest speaker at the United Nations.
He gave a talk on innovation in Rome at the International
Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Last year he
was one of the representatives at the Young Leaders of the
Americas Initiative (YLAI) fellowship programme. He
joined 250 social entrepreneurs for a six-week exchange
which included placements with organisations in 21 city
hubs across the USA.
Sennon was impressed with his experience. He met with
representatives of the PB&J Fund, and the Local Food Hub,
We are familiar with superheroes in comic books and
movies ying in to save the world from danger. You might
be surprised to know a Trinidadian superhero named
AGRIman may be ying into theatres one day to help young
people solve the world's food supply problems. At least
that's what Alpha Sennon, Founder and Executive Director
of WHYFARM envisions. In just two years, Sennon's
organisation (which stands for We Help Youth Farm) has
had an enthusiastic response locally and has already gained
interest in countries across the world like the USA, Rwanda,
Haiti and Zambia.
Sennon, aged 30, developed the NGO to get young
people interested in local agriculture. As he talks about why
so few youth gravitate toward this industry, Sennon reveals
that he speaks from experience. His father was a farmer and
as a child Sennon hated agriculture.
"It always appeared to be hard work. It always appeared
to be not cool, not fun, not attractive, not something I could
do as a profession, to earn a livelihood, to see about a family."
Perhaps because of his aversion to farming, it took
Sennon some time to nd the subject that would become
his passion. "Why not try agribusiness?" suggested a dean
at UWI and Sennon was hooked.
He began to see agriculture di erently. e potential
became more apparent as he visited other countries. During
a trip to India the name WHYFARM came to him.
e organisation re ects his desire to help young people
realise the potential of the industry. "Agriculture is more
than just a farmer," he says. " ere's science, technology.
ere's engineering. ere's heritage. ere are arts, you
Sennon wants to encourage youths to combat the
Find out more about WHYFARM
For more information on the
Faculty of Food and Agriculture
visit http://sta.uwi.edu/ a/
discussing food safety, nutrition and agricultural investment
among youth. He found himself considering incorporating
a healthy eating component to WHYFARM.
For him, one of the highlights included meeting with
Chic ompson, author of "What a Great Idea." Several
projects are due to come from their collaboration, including
starting a WAGI Labs ( ompson's animation company)
based in Trinidad and developing a creative activity-based
curriculum for AGRIman.
Sennon is grateful to Dr. Ganpat, who rst suggested
agriculture to him, and to e UWI for its support. " e
Faculty of Food and Agriculture contributed a lot to my
development today and still contributes." Dr. Ganpat is the
supervisor for his thesis.
"It requires a considerable e ort to get agriculture
moving again," he says. "We have to get the public to buy
in. e Faculty of Food and Agriculture views it as our
responsibility to undertake this task. Alpha's advocacy ts
into that nicely. I support him 100% and in fact we are
looking into providing him a space on campus to work
Looking at all the progress Sennon has made, it's clear
that he has his own super power: that of using his passion
to make a huge di erence in his community and inspiring
young people. World agriculture and food security truly
have a hero ghting for the cause.
PHOTO: SEAN MIGUEL MORRISON
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