BFP: What do you do?
KPM: As Head of Food Security Agenda at Syngenta, my mandate is to develop and pilot innovative business models that deliver sustainable solutions for smallholder farmers and ensure the environmental sustainability of agriculture.
We are running pilot projects in countries like India, Tanzania and Paraguay focusing on farmer needs for access to inputs, knowledge, information, finance and markets. We work with partners across the food value chain as well as with NGOs, donors and governments to develop holistic solutions that help smallholders increase their yield and profitability in an environmentally sustainable way.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
KPM: I have always worked at the intersection of business and sustainability. What is especially exciting about this role is to be able to develop and deliver innovative solutions. And even more than that it is being able to see the results of your efforts on the ground in terms of higher productivity and profitability of farmers farming less than 2 hectares of land – the difference we are able to make in their lives is truly motivating.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
KPM: The kind of models we are developing and delivering take time – time to develop, to set up, to bring in partners, to engage our own business and to deliver results. In a world where people are looking for quick wins and fast results, the slow pace of change for sustainable solutions can be a real challenge.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges?/ What advice, would you give to others?/ What is the secret of your success
KPM: Patience and perseverance is my new mantra! It is important to ensure that these initiatives are set up right – and to take the time to do that. It is also important to keep all stakeholders engaged and informed throughout the process and to ensure that their interests are included. And it is important to highlight and celebrate even small achievements and milestones. It does help to have supportive bosses!
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
KPM: I think everyone should start where they are. I am fortunate to have the opportunity and role I have. But I think it is equally important for people to feel empowered to create sustainable change from their current position – to think of possible changes they can create now, to bring new ideas to the organisation they are in, to create a community. We need a bottom-up, top-down, any-which-way approach to sustainability.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
KPM: The BFP community is a unique family of like-minded people focusing on one of the most critical challenges of our time. I get a lot of inspiration and learning from it and also a sense of belonging. I hope we can continue to grow the passion and determination that it embodies.
Thank you to Kavita Prakash-Mani for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.