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How my dad’s rural-urban migration affected my ideas about agricultural research

Rebeca, a "city girl" in the middle of nature

I am pretty much a city girl. I was born at a hospital in the city centre of the capital of Brazil, Brasilia. I grew up playing in and with another children in the streets using my rollers, adventuring in homemade karts (known as rolimãs in Brazil) or even running around because of the well-known “hide and seek” game. I was also born in the revolutionary ICT age: I remember using my 256 MB memory computer to type some of my journalistic works when I was 8 years old and waiting long 15 minutes to connect my dial internet in order to use my ICQ. Yes, I think my childhood could not be more urban. Definitely, I am a city girl.

Nevertheless my urban life would never be possible if my dad had not migrated from a little rural town called Pires do Rio to the newly constructed capital Brasilia in the 1970s. Actually, this same decade marked the rural-urban migration of Brazil since it was the very first time that rural population was overcome by urban population in the country (for more information read Sawyer and Rigotti 2001).

Fulfilled by the hope of better opportunities and a better life, my grandparents were among millions of Brazilians that left rural areas that period and established themselves in rapid growing cities. The better future hoped for came true, my father completed secondary school, went to university and even finished a MBA. This was much more education than my almost illiterate grandparents could ever wish for. The education surely payed off: my dad has been working in a state-owned bank for more than 20 years and he will probably retire in a senior position.

Because of the successful rural-urban migration of my father, I could also have many opportunities in life: I went to good schools, attended a good university and had good jobs. This certainly is not the same reality of quite amount of people in my country.  In Brazil, around 16.2 millions still live under the national poverty line although the impressive decline of inequality and poverty in the last decade (for Portuguese speakers, (see IPEA 2012). Therefore the great opportunities I had enabled me to go for my own migration experience. In 2011, I left tropical Brazil to study and work in Europe for over two years.

During this time, I fell in love with food and nutrition security and I just could not get over the fact that this could pretty much help millions of people to have a better life. This was also the moment I realize the importance of the agricultural sector to a zero-hunger world and how it is important for economic progress of developing countries like Brazil. This may sound quite obvious and I being a Brazilian should totally know it very well. But besides my pleasant times camping with scouts or my hunt for native fruits in the bushes, all my idea about agriculture was that it was a quite tedious or retrograde sector. I could not be more wrong!

During my time abroad, I absorbed new cultures, learned new ideas and was immersed in new concepts and, suddenly, I could see agriculture in a new light. I realized that agriculture is a very dynamic sector, with great opportunities and a bright future. It is also a key sector to feed the world and also to promote sustainable economic progress. This mindset change encouraged me to join YPARD and to show other young Brazilians that they do have a lot to offer to agriculture and that agriculture have also a lot to give.

Now, I see that my dad’s rural-urban migration influenced my own migration story, one that actually changed my own feelings about the agricultural sector and made me realize that HOPE for the future is, actually, in the rural areas.

Note: This article is dedicated to my dad as is Father’s Day in Brazil next Sunday! Thanks, Dad for all your support and amazing opportunities you gave me!