Alpha Sennon

Agripreneur, Founder and Executive Director, WhyFarm (We Help Youth Farm)

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By shifting negative narratives around farming that discourage young people from entering the field, Alpha is reframing and marketing farming as an exciting, impactful career that embraces STEM, innovation, and creativity. His “agri-edutainment” programs inspire kids from pre-school up about farming, while his “agripreneurship” programs mentor young people up to age 30. Young agripreneurs going into farming makes the career more sustainable, efficient, and attractive to more young people.

Alpha Sennon


Alpha Sennon, the first and only Ashoka Fellow from Trinidad and Tobago to date, founded WhyFarm (We Help Youth Farm) to confront a slow-motion, global food security crisis that is already underway: Aging populations will need food that today’s youth do not have the skills, knowledge, or interest to grow.

Based in T&T, with programs elsewhere in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa, WhyFarm reframes farming in fun, engaging ways that spark young people’s curiosity about farming and show them why they should consider it as a career. Its agripreneurship education and mentoring programs show older youth up to age 30 how to become farmers and market and grow their operations. In place of an old-fashioned, stigmatized image of rural farmers scratching a marginal living from the land, WhyFarm promotes an updated view of farming as “agripreneurship,” an exciting, creative, innovative, respected profession that saves and improves lives.

Alpha believes that youth are the key to innovating agriculture and feeding the world sustainably. “We need young people to become agripreneurs,” Alpha says. “They are technologically savvy, creative, and open to new approaches in ways that older folks aren’t. We need to engage them to ensure we’ll have farmers to feed people in the future. It involves a lot of heavy marketing to make it attractive – we call it ‘agriKOOLture’ – – showing young people they can find their future in the food value chain.”

WhyFarm (We Help Youth Farm) [is] a Trinidad-based non-profit that pioneers agricultural educational entertainment, promoting sustainable agriculture among the youth— founded by Alpha Sennon, one of the region’s preeminent voices in food security.


As part of what he calls “agri-edutainment,” Alpha created a comic book series following the exploits of Agri- man, the world’s first farming superhero, who heroically solves agricultural problems and fights food insecurity. WhyFarm puts on live shows at schools and community events using the Agriman character to tell real-life stories of adventures in agriculture.

Agriman engages younger kids, but WhyFarm offers what Alpha calls “agripreneurship” programs with how-to training, curricula, and mentorship all the way through university and graduate school and beyond. The curricula have been adopted internationally.

In addition to Trinidad and Tobago, WhyFarm identifies and mentors next-generation agripreneurs in Zambia, Haiti, Brazil, and Cameroon. They act as ambassadors for the profession, putting on their own school programs, setting up school produce gardens, and promoting agriculture as an exciting, essential career for students. For young adults who have already decided to become new farmers, WhyFarm provides technical support, entrees to markets, and ongoing professional development.

Farmer and social entrepreneur Alpha Sennon is sparking some serious youth engagement in agriculture around the world through his creative approach to food, health, and climate. The AgriMan character is the first food and nutrition superhero.



The global population is both growing and aging. By 2050, there will be 9.7 billion people on the planet, whose median age will be 16% higher than today.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the world will need to increase food pro- duction by 60% to feed them. Yet it’s unclear where that increased output will come from.

Today, most of the world’s food is produced by aging smallholder farmers in developing countries, many of whom are poorly educated. The global average age of farmers is about 60. Older farmers will soon age out, and meanwhile, they are less likely to introduce innovative techniques that can raise yields in sustainable ways. Without younger people entering the field, by mid-cen- tury there will be a shortage of farmers, and therefore of food.

Youth must be the future of food security. Our ability to feed the world in 2050 hinges on the life paths of children who are just 10 years old today. Yet few young people are taking up farming.

Alpha on Agriman suit
Alpha Sennon – Alpha is reframing young people’s views on farming from its being perceived as backbreaking and boring into a challenging, available, and innovative career path.

A report by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture showed that Trinidadian youth don’t want to go into farming because they associate it with back-breaking labor and poverty. A U.S. government report on agricultural development noted the stigma of servitude that taints agricultural work in the Caribbean, connected to the region’s legacy of slavery.

Agripreneur and WhyFarm founder and executive director Alpha Sennon is motivated by helping the youth of Trinidad and Tobago learn more about agriculture, food, and nutrition and how they can contribute to TT’s food security. WhyFarm is dedicated to helping change negative stereotypes surrounding agriculture and helping young people see it as a viable career option.


Agriman cover
Alpha Sennon

A study by FAO found that young people in developing countries see low-productivity agriculture as drudgery and a marginal way to earn a living, so they often migrate instead to cities in search of better-paying jobs. By 2030, 60% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities. The urbanization trend not only drives more young people away from farming, it places an untenable burden on fewer and fewer food producers to feed larger and larger urban populations.

Yet convincing young people to try farming is “an uphill battle,” according to Wayne Ganpat, Dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture at the University of the West Indies. Agriculture is stigmatized and not seen as a viable career path. The Trinidadian economy still places greater emphasis on producing fossil fuels than food. But those priorities are the polar opposite of the transformation the world needs for a viable future – it needs to phase out fossil fuels and ramp up sustainable food production.

“Agriculture has not been marketed as a professional career,” says Alpha, an omission he’s working hard to remedy. Technical training is also lacking, especially in sustainable agriculture methods. Conventional farming practices in the Caribbean are chemical-intensive and cause environmental damage. In Trinidad and Tobago, farming is mainly subsistence-based with sparse financial and technical backing, so there is little possibility to invest in improvements and adopt more sustainable practices. Development organizations, such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, have called for improved training and more engagement, but big gaps remain.

The Strategy

Alpha seeks to impart both the “why” and the “how” of farming to young people across the developing world. He has created programs geared towards youth of all ages, from preschool age to 30. He uses entertainment to capture the attention of young audiences and explain why they should want to grow up to be farmers, then builds on that captured attention with educational pro- grams that explain how they can enter the field, innovate it, and succeed.

Alpha’s has partnered with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
Alpha Sennon – Alpha’s has partnered with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health to help alleviate food insecurity.

On the entertainment side, Alpha began by creating Agriman, the world’s first farming superhero. Agriman and his squad of agriculture-themed sidekicks fight food insecurity. They are the protagonists of a multimedia communications empire that markets farming as a desirable profession to young people. This marketing includes a comic book series, a YouTube video series, social media campaigns, original songs, and branded food products that emphasize local production. Alpha is in negotiations on an Agriman video cartoon series and a movie. Agri- man also makes in-person visits to primary schools, career fairs, conferences, and community events.

The comic book series is available online and in print, with thousands of copies circulating. It has been translated into several languages, including Portuguese. Local artists and advocates in Brazil ran with the character, created their own version of Agriman, and took him on a school tour, reaching 40,000 students across ten Brazilian states.

On the education side, Alpha designed STEM Agriculture, a 10-week curriculum that schools use to integrate agriculture and climate change into their existing science and math courses.

“For example, a favorite vegetable here is pimento, and we work with students to do the calculation of how much it costs to plant pimento trees, the investments necessary before harvest, the average market price, and the profit margin,” says Alpha. “It’s a whole, real-life math class. We teach them about the soil inputs, and the roles of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous – that’s a chemistry class. And we get into designing tools that can harvest sweet potatoes without damaging them and losing money – that’s an engineering class. This way, young people who are interested in STEM can imagine themselves farming.”

The school curriculum has reached about 2600 Trinidadian students under the age of 18. Alpha’s new online video course, created in collaboration with the Thought for Food Foundation, “A Beginner’s Mindset to Engaging Youth in Agriculture,” will reach thousands more.

WhyFarm’s university curriculum has been adopted by universities internationally, including by the Polytechnic College of Suriname. It also runs a university lecture series entitled “Grow After Graduation: Food and Agri Series,” and inspirational workshops on agribusiness in business schools. Participants have been inspired to enter farming and use innovative approaches like hydroponics. WhyFarm provides them with ongoing technical support and entrees to markets for their produce.

Other WhyFarm programs reach youth through non-school channels, like a youth theater program that teaches students about the global food crisis and the importance of local food production and native plants. Each year thousands of students in WhyFarm’s “AgriKOOLture Kidz Klub” visit Alpha’s farm, where they get practical how-to training and help with setting up their own school and community produces gardens.

Many WhyFarm participants go on to pursue farming as a career. Although it’s difficult to attribute specific in- stances of this verifiably to WhyFarm, in the years since it was founded, Professor Ganpat has observed a 10% annual uptick in enrollment in the Food and Agriculture program at the University of the West Indies.

WhyFarm’s catchphrase [is] “plant one tree and eat for free.” One of its goals is to engage young people and sustain the agricultural sector through the continuity of generations of farmers who will institute sustainable agricultural practices. “WhyFarm is a catalyst for inspiration in the agricultural sector and encourages citizens to make changes to eat local and support local farmers,” says Sennon. 


For those who decide to take up farming, WhyFarm conducts workshops in 10 countries for young professionals up to age 30 to sharpen their business skills and grow their operations. Alpha created the Agripreneur Master- mind Program (AMPITUP) where young agripreneurs are challenged to write a business plan to take their product or service to the next level and hone their skills at innovating, fundraising, and financing it. Throughout the competition, participants are mentored and offered professional development resources.

AMPITUP winners receive cash prizes totaling $50,000 and their business plans are included in WhyFarm’s Best Practices Road Map for Youth Engagement in Agriculture, posted online. For one winner who makes ice cream pops, AMPITUP helped her find suppliers like local coconut producers and wholesale printers for packaging. She won a grant from the US Embassy to further develop her product.

83% of participants reported growing their operations, thanks to AMPITUP, which helped them register their businesses, understand their export potential, and find more professional development, mentoring, and funding opportunities. The first AMPITUP pilot in 2019 was presented as a case study at four global conferences, and Alpha received support from the Inter-American Development Bank to scale the program across the Caribbean.

Alpha’s WHYFARMers Collective, a growing network of young farmers who share ideas and resources and support each other’s ventures, gives participants entrees to markets – for example, via a special supply relationship with Massy Stores, a leading supermarket chain, which carries WHYFARMers’ produce.

Beyond WhyFarm, Alpha also collaborates with major partners, including consulting for FAO on how to stoke more youth interest and more innovation in Caribbean agriculture, and contracting with FAO to create a digital agriculture roadmap for Trinidadian farmers. Alpha builds hospital “medicinal food parks” in collaboration with Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health and community gardens in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).



Although Alpha grew up on a farm in Trinidad and Tobago, he didn’t feel a personal connection with farming when he was young. “It just felt like chores,” he said. “I was missing the connection to a great purpose. ”Like many young people, for Alpha, working the land had become “a symbol of oppression, rather than freedom.”

As a college student, Alpha stayed as far away from farming as he could, until, on a trip to Jamaica, he toured farms and factories, and saw how large-scale agricultural production could be managed as a business. This opened his eyes to the innovative potential of agripreneurship as an exciting, purposeful, innovative career.

Alpha Sennon – Because the future of food security depends on younger generations, WhyWeFarm has developed programs geared towards youth of all ages – from youth theater programs to university curriculum.
Alpha Sennon – Because the future of food security depends on younger generations, WhyWeFarm has developed programs geared
towards youth of all ages – from youth theater programs to university curriculum.

Alpha traveled more widely, witnessing sustainable farming techniques in India, and studying abroad in Thailand. As he visited more farms, Alpha began to envision implementing the practices he was learning about in his home country. He recognized enlisting young people was the key; they had to be exposed to agriculture before their negative attitude toward it hardened, and bring fresh eyes to the profession.

To that end, Alpha took leadership roles in college organizations such as the Executive Committee for Agriculture and the Agribusiness Society. As a Youth Representative for Agriculture, he noticed that older members of the Society were recycling failed approaches from the past and were resistant to new ideas proposed by younger members. Alpha decided the solution was to connect directly with youth and empower them to bring their innovations forward. That was the genesis of WhyFarm and Agriman.

Alpha’s work has been recognized with many international awards including the Misk Global Challenge award, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Alpha was named the 2021 national influencer by the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago (the first time a farmer has received the accolade), one of 30 Under 30 Carib- bean American Emerging Leaders and Changemakers, and one of 2016’s Young Leaders of the Americas. Alpha is currently a Specialist Business Mentor for Agriculture with the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods and serves on the Next Gen Council for the Thought for Food Global Foundation, where he is also an ambassador for the Caribbean.

Alpha Sennon created WhyFarm to address food insecurity in Trinidad and Tobago and promote sustainable agriculture among youth and children. WhyFarm aims to refocus the regional agricultural sector to prioritize youth engagement. The organization creates spaces for youth to be involved in agriculture-related decision- making, provides capacity building opportunities, and hosts programs to empower young agripreneurs.