A Conversation with…
Dr Andreea Stroia is CHAP’s Innovation Content and Outreach Coordinator based in Dundee, Scotland. Here, she takes us through her journey so far in the agriculture sector and highlights her views on present challenges.
1. How would you describe your day-to-day role at CHAP?
In short – diverse, exciting and fulfilling. My role sits between the innovation and marketing teams and in doing so, I take part in exciting projects, provide scientific support and contribute to all things content-related such as video, images, articles and more. The duality of my role enables me to enjoy science as well as communication and knowledge dissemination elements.
Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to drive the sector forward through brokering fruitful connections, sharing fantastic insights from experts, hosting events that tackle key challenges and working on projects that bring innovation to life.
2. What is your expertise?
I completed my BSc degree in Microbiology and thereafter pursued a PhD in Biochemistry, both awarded from the University of Glasgow. It was during my PhD studies that my passion for agriculture ignited, when I had the opportunity to explore the multifaceted nature of herbicidal products and their impact on the environment. I understood that change was a prerequisite if we were to create and maintain sustainable systems able to feed the ever-growing population, all the while using less land and producing more nutrient-rich produce. It’s a gargantuan task to say the least, but the more people and organisations that join the ranks, the merrier.
3. How is your work rewarding?
Having the opportunity to tell stories that matter and empower others to make a change. I believe the power of storytelling is deeply engrained in our nature and as such, we resonate with them to this day and age. CHAP values the power of peer-to-peer learning and provides a platform for people to impart their knowledge and lessons learned.
Another aspect is relationship-building – connecting academics, farmers, growers, passionate entrepreneurs and organisations to conduct inspiring work. Through fostering such connections, true challenges are identified and tackled, offering a united front and ensuring that we have all the right partners around the table.
4. Why pursue a career in agri-tech?
It has enabled me to follow my interest in agriculture and play my part in the current global food crisis. I can also apply my knowledge and expertise, whether it’s linked to my scientific background or to communication, knowledge exchange and event hosting. The sector offers a variety of opportunities for someone wishing to join, it can be in the scientific realm or financial, journalistic, you name it. Overall, we need such variety if we are to shape future-proof agricultural systems.
5. What do you think are the key challenges faced by agriculture today?
Records indicate that agriculture accounts for around 4% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). However, in some developing countries this can rise to more than 25%. Not to mention that agriculture also has a direct impact on the environment and human health.
There are numerous challenges given the complexity of the sector: climate disruptions, new pests and diseases, and political unrest to name a few. On the bright side, we have innovative technologies at hand to support us in our mission. We can harness the power of big data to gain a deeper, more complex understanding of our crops, and devise sustainable methods to grow more produce with rich nutrient profiles.
To achieve our goals, we will need more than just advanced tech, I believe we require effective collaborations. This is where organisations such as CHAP come in to connect and open communication channels and offer a space for different stakeholders to meet, discuss and debate such challenges. Without trustworthy partnerships, the agriculture sector will not be able to deliver and implement the much-needed innovations and in the end we all stand to lose.