Food, Fuel & Fruitful farmland
This article was published in the UNiquely UNIS Summer Edition 2018
Agricultural innovation is Yanik Nyberg's future. It is the world's future, too. With growing food demand projected to outstrip supply, new farming methods must be found.
Class of 2013 UNIS Hanoi alumnus Yanik might just hold our future in his hands.
A graduate student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Yanik leads a seawater farming project on Scotland's coast growing salt tolerant plants and making them viable in local markets. Classed as superfoods packed with vital nutrients, these plants also have potential uses in producing cosmetics, building materials and biofuels.
Yanik hopes his research will prove the potential of his innovative farming methods. "I see this as an environmentally friendly practice where plants can be produced organically on unused, low quality land," he says.
From a dual German and American family, Yanik's international education has positioned him to take his successes abroad. Involvement in Model United Nations and the visit of Ban Ki Moon, then Secretary-General to the UN, were highlights of his time at UNIS Hanoi.
"The focus that UNIS placed on the principles of the United Nations and of global development was amazing," Yanik says. "You could feel that in every class."
Yanik's interest in international relations and economics led him to an undergraduate degree in law at the University of Aberdeen. But his Vietnam-based learning about food security and climate change never left him. Memories of trips to the Red River in Hanoi and exposure to agricultural issues in the Mekong River delta lingered, helping to spark a career change.
Yanik is now finishing a masters degree in Environmental Engineering and Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde, out of which his seawater farming project was born.
From the trial project in Scotland, he hopes to spend the offseason—winters in the UK—putting his seawater farming ideas to practical use in developing countries around Asia. In places like Sri Lanka, Yanik plans to restore farmland lost to encroaching saltwater. "I want to see the land made fruitful again and the local economy rejuvenated," he says.
UNIS Hanoi connections made Sri Lanka a natural place for Yanik to launch his humanitarian development initiative. From being a student at UNIS Hanoi, "I ended up with friends in virtually every country," he says. "UNIS contacts have opened a lot of doors for me."
And Yanik may, in turn, be opening the doors to a sustainable food future for all of us.