As we welcome the beginning of 2012, I can honestly say that this year is going to be one like no other. Not only do I have an extensive list of countries to visit but I fully intend to take you along for the ride. With that said I also want to offer my support and courage in that all of you will live an exceptional year as well because ‘Life is what we make it!’. It is often overlooked at how powerful the daily decisions we make result in how happy we live each day. As I sit here in Lindsay, Ontario about to present my final keynote speech to a group of 130 farmers, I feel humbled to have had this opportunity to inspire and motivate over 1,100 Canadians through BDO client seminars across the country. (www.bdo.ca)
Yesterday I flew into Toronto and was reminded of how you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. For example it was the first time that my taxi cab driver had a passenger ride in the front seat and then tried to negotiate the taxi fare. I enjoy people from all walks of life and it still amazes me to see such diverse demographics in any urban setting. Toronto however is truly an amazing place. I say this because as I arrived downtown and decided to grab a quick bite to eat before heading to the Free The Children head office for a meeting, I witnessed an elderly lady give a homeless man some change, a young man going from street post to street post taping posters for a comedy club and a ‘hippie’ couple holding hands and kissing before crossing the street together. I could not help but smile and admire individuality.
The highlight of my day was having the opportunity to meet team members from one of Canada’s most successful and fastest growing organizations known as Free The Children. The worlds largest network of children helping children through education. Besides my teenage crush on Craig Kielburger, I admire his passion and hard work. As a seventh grader in 1995 he became a youth activist and was inspired to step-up, have a voice and take action. To say the very least I don’t think anyone can fully fathom what massive potential Free The Children and the ‘Me to We’ movement really has towards making our world a better place to live in. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Go to their website (www.freethechildren.com) and learn more about making a worthwhile direct donation or better yet how you can get involved. I’ve chosen to participate in a development project in Kenya this October and can hardly wait!
My personal opinion on feeding the world is straight forward. ‘Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.’ And perhaps he’ll teach his son how to fish and the family will be fed. Furthermore what if they have extra fish to sell and they earn an income to send the kids to school… and the ripple effect continues.
By no means is this a blanket situation to solving world hunger overnight however I believe it’s a start. Ever since my first trip to the developing country of Papua New Guinea in 2009 I gained an appreciative perspective of how lucky I truly am as a healthy Canadian. As a farmer, we take for granted how technology and research has advanced our production methods. Operating a farming business comes with its challenges but if we approach this focus of an increasing world population in a capitalistic mindset I think we’re missing the point. Especially Canada. What do you think China is doing by purchasing so much foreign land? For food security perhaps? I’m sorry to burst any bubbles if anyone thinks that Canada is going to be ‘Bread Basket of the World’; not to forget we have this thing called winter! Granted that climate change continues to throw us some curve balls but what is the single most important element in agriculture?
Have we seen full production capacity of Saudi Arabia? Not a chance. We talk about ‘Bread Baskets of the World’ and we forget to think of the middle east among others. The limiting factor in these areas is no doubt going to be water.
All food for thought and in the meantime I continue to believe in Canadian agriculture because we have passion and creativity. The world is at our feet, full of opportunity. What decisions will you make today to lead to a remarkable 2012?