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Women in Ag Award 2023

The role of women in agriculture, in the agribusiness and in the agricultural sciences is changing worldwide. An increasing number of women are shaping the future of agriculture as managers on their own farms or in companies, research or education. An increasing number of women are the initiators and catalysts of sustainable food production around the globe and are often shaping agricultural dialogue as journalists, bloggers or influencers.

The Women in Ag Awards pay tribute to this commitment and tell the stories behind these inspiring women.

The international award is jointly presented by the „Women in Ag“-Magazin and DLG. Following its successful premiere at EuroTier 2022, this year’s award ceremony will be taking place at AGRITECHNICA.

Women make a valuable contribution to the further development of our industry and create real added value for society. We received more than 130 applications from 38 nations - each one individual and valuable in a very special way.

The jury has decided! We congratulate the award winners.

The award ceremony will take place during the "Celebrate Purpose" event on 15 November 2023 in Hall 24, A06 (DLG Stand).

Category FARMING: Award Winners and Nominees

Kate Hoare

Kate Hoare runs a dairy farm in Southeast Cornwall with her husband. She introduced a new model for sustainable farming, installing a biomethane capturing slurry lagoon. This solution is able to reduce the impact of their activity, producing gas that can be reutilized for work, eventually fueling the tractor and generator, which means that the whole farm can be completely off-grid. 

Onyaole Patience Koku

Onyaole Patience Koku is a seasoned entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in agriculture in Nigeria. Together with her husband, she has a 12,000 broiler chicken per cycle farm and local and international commodity trading in Nigeria. Patience promotes access to scientific and innovative knowledge to increase efficiency and leads by example as a practitioner and farmer.

Judith de Vor

Judith has a dairy and educational farm; she farms together with her husband Rick. They have 160 cows in total and farm in a regenerative and sustainable way; with lots of attention to nature, biodiversity and their environment. Judith organizes all kind of activities for creating understanding and awareness and being to connect to people. The activities include open farm days, workshops and educational programs for school classes; people from the city, business meetings and policy makers are regular visitors.

Linda Kelly
Sarah Msambira
Asiya Jama
Viktoria Hutter
Agnieszka Tołłoczko-Wróbel

Category AGRIBUSINESS: Award Winners and Nominees

Anna Maria Nunez Vega

Anna is a process engineer and a food quality expert for Grain Technik Pvt. Ltd. She founded and headed the International Rice Milling Academy in Bangalore. Anna has been relentlessly working on improving the food and feed safety and security situation worldwide. Her driving force is the desire to minimize all kind of losses during grain processing by improving the storage technology as well as educating customers, especially in tropical conditions where the storage losses are the highest.


Joana Paiva

Joana’s (PhD, Professor) work spans sustainability, disease prediction, medical devices, food quality and agrifood manufacturing. She collaborates with diverse academic teams, earning international and national scientific recognition. This includes nominations from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Science & Healthcare” recognition, and distinctions like “Women in Science, 2021” from FCT & Ciência Viva, the “2021 Women Entrepreneurship Award” from the Católica Business School of Economics, and the “2019 Born From Knowledge” award from ANI.

Joana has raised around 8 million euros in private investments and public grants, showcasing her ability to secure support for innovative projects. She actively fosters innovation and scientific curiosity among students and researchers, significantly advancing science on a broader scale.


Forget Shareka

Forget’s contribution to sustainable agriculture and food systems has opened both local and international doors, where she has been having high-level discussions and advocating for women and small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe and Africa at large. Currently, Forget is based in Wales, UK, where she is doing her graduate scheme program working as a sustainability consultant helping Small and Medium Enterprises in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and the energy sector shape their sustainability goals and ambitions for net zero.

Janet Adade
Alanna Koch
Charlene Finck
Naiga Mai
Dorte Bak Himmelstrup

Category EDUCATION: Award Winners and Nominees

Amina Ali

Amina is an advocate for women's rights in agriculture at national and international levels. Armed with her expertise and the voices of the strong-willed women whose lives have been transformed by her center's programs, she has become an influential voice in steering policy changes that prioritize gender equality in agriculture.


Salatu Abubakar

Salatu Abubakar combines her expertise in creating positive impact among women small holder farmers, women processors, and farmer families through capacity buildings and agribusiness with a genuine passion for empowering women in agriculture. As the Northern Regional Officer in Charge of Women in Agricultural Development, she continues to make a lasting impact on the lives of countless women by mentoring them as well as providing them with opportunities for growth through market linkage which had a positive impact on their businesses and livelihoods.

Prof. Dr. Nirit Berstein

Nirit is a global scholar and educator of agricultural research, contributing at international level across the world. She has made extraordinary contributions to all components of agricultural science (research, teaching, engagement, service and leadership) that are internationally recognized. She is a global leader in the area of cannabis research focused on strengthening its medicinal value.

Funmilayo Ogunleke

Funmilayo is deputy rector of the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan. She has made it her mission to promote dairy farming and production in Nigeria. For example, she hosted the 2022 World School Milk Day in the country and coordinated the 2023 World Milk Day program. As a lecturer, Funmilayo has broad access to young people and encourages them to go into agriculture or study agriculture.

Mareike Breitfeld
Jana Klaiber
Dr. Hiltrud Nieberg
Ingrid Meichelböck

Category TECHNOLOGY & RESEARCH: Award Winners and Nominees

Alfiya Kayumova

Alfiya is an entrepreneur and agritech expert with over 10 years of experience in business development, investment banking and agriculture. As the co-founder and CEO of Green Growth, she provides farmers with essential information about field performance and yield data, helping them solve the problem of inefficient use of inputs like fertilizers and seeds and thereby increase profitability.

Dr. Stefanie Hartje

Stefanie combines several functions in the company in one person: she is manager, chief scientist and mentor, as well as responsible for the integration of several departments. She plays a key role in promoting state-of-the-art scientific techniques in the field of potato breeding. With her commitment and innovative ideas, she plays a decisive role in making the potato fit for the future and strengthening it for the coming challenges in agriculture (climate change, drought, no pesticides, etc.).

Solvejg Kristensen

Solveig is Managing Director at  Eye-Grain. A company that continues to introduce new technologies to the industry and were first-movers to monitor in-bin moisture concentration and monitoring of CO2-concentration to determine hot-spots and spoilage at an early stage caused by insects or fungi. She does research for Aalborg University, is named on numeral academic papers and promotes measures for her employees to heighten mental health and reduce stress.

Pauline Canteneur
Iryna Chornobai
Maria Rist Jónsdóttir
Angela Falagario
Dr. Uta König von Borstel

Jury and criteria

The international jury is made up of women from the fields of agriculture, agribusiness and related areas. It will evaluate the submitted applications based on the following criteria:

  • Innovative work, projects and initiatives
  • Impacts on agriculture in general, on processes or specific areas (regional, national, international)
  • Personal presentation in general

Members of the jury

Yuliya Bondarenko
CEO, DLG Ukraine

The stories of successful female professionals in agribusiness empower, inspire and set a vision for other female colleagues and especially for women starting their careers. With the WomeninAg Award, we give them a voice!


Born in Kiev, Ukraine, graduate of the National Agrarian University of Ukraine and Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany in the field of international agribusiness. Yuliya has about 15 years of experience in Ukrainian and international companies in agricultural marketing, communication and project management. Since 2016, she has been the Managing Director of the Ukrainian subsidiary DLG Ukraine and successfully developed several exhibition platforms for arable farming and potato production such as the International Field Days and Potato Day. Since 2022, Yuliya Bondarenko has been working for DLG Service on the development of new exhibition areas for vertical agriculture and new food systems.

Mathilde Brion
Agri-journalist, France

As a journalist since 2011, I specialised in the agricultural press in animal production in 2018. Especially in the field, I value the exchange of experiences with farmers and technicians, both men and women. I engage all year round to represent their voices. For me, the promotion of women in agriculture is part of an egalitarian approach at the level of society and nations. I share WIAG's ambition through its will to "contribute to a future where prices specifically for women will no longer be necessary". Against the background of a worldwide weakening of women's rights, it is more important than ever to take action.


Freya von Czettritz
CEO, DLG Holding and founder of DLG-Female Agri Fellows network, Germany

It is crucial to have more women in our industry, as their perspectives and experiences are irreducibly useful for seeing things from all angles and also encourage innovation.
Women enrich the talent pool, improve teamwork and drive processes with competence and precision.

Promoting women and recognising their achievements not only creates a more inclusive and equal working environment, but also sets inspiring examples for future generations and promotes diversity and equality across all sectors.


As CEO of DLG Holding, Freya v. Czettritz drives the dovetailing of agriculture and food internationally. With the knowledge pool of the 30,000 DLG members; the established formats, such as the leading trade fairs AGRITECHNICA and EuroTier and her international agricultural network, she works with heart and soul for modern and sustainable agriculture.

Melinda Hashimoto
CEO, Egg Farmers of Australia

It is often difficult to find women who are willing to mentor others. More women in agriculture will not only make for great leaders, but also great mentors who can help future generations.  Women leaders work together and slowly the 'boys club' will see the benefits of women in strategic work and leadership roles, rather than seeing women working only in support roles and behind the scenes. Women are often silent achievers, and that's why it's important to have awards like Women in Ag to not only showcase the talent of women in agriculture, but also to recognise the hard work that all women do day in and day out."


Melinda has been CEO of Egg Farmers of Australia since her appointment in July 2019. Her previous roles include advisor to federal and state agriculture ministers and the Queensland Department of Trade and Investment. Established in 2016, Egg Farmers of Australia (EFA) is the national industry development organisation for Australian egg producers. The core areas of work relate to advocacy on biosecurity, food safety and Australian poultry welfare standards and policies. EFA drives policy for the Australian egg industry, consults with government and provides input and feedback on policies affecting egg production through member representation. EFA members include farmers with caged, floor, free range and organic eggs. Melinda believes that it is important to mentor and help others develop all aspects of life.

Hella Otten
Founder of Women in Agribusiness network, Germany

I come from a farm in Lower Saxony (Westertimke) and studied agricultural sciences at CAU University in Kiel.

For over 23 years I worked at NORD/LB, formerly Bremer Landesbank. There I implemented and built up commodity futures trading for the bank in the area of risk management for the agricultural and food industry. I was also responsible for event management in this area, such as the Dairy Industry Day and the Food Industry Day. Currently, I work for the bank in the area of real estate financing. 

Since June 2021, I have also been working for AGRAVIS in the area of agricultural products. Here I am responsible for event management. I created the ACD AGRAVIS Commodity Day and moderate this type of event for the company. Since the beginning of this year, I have been involved in the "Women at AGRAVIS" project.

Since March 2018, I have been a member of the board of the Bremen Grain and Feed Association. There, I take care of their two stock exchange events. I also moderate and plan events for the association.

In October 2017, I founded the WiA - Women in Agribusiness network. In Bremen, 20 women came together for the first time to "network". Today we are over 100.

Kim Schoukens
Founder and editor Women in Ag- Magazine, Belgium

After I moved to the countryside as a city girl, a whole new world opened up for me. A world filled with strong women, each one living up to their role on the farm or in the field. These women around me motivated me to start Women in Ag Magazine, sharing their stories. In a positive way, I want to share their knowledge and experiences, inspiring other women in the sector to take steps, implement ideas and bring our sector to life.

Sheila Zulu
Agronomist and Trainer at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm, Zambia

In Zambia and in most parts of the world, women make up more than 40% of the agricultural labour force. 
The work of rural women in agriculture is often underestimated and invisible, especially among smallholder farmers. Women mainly play support roles for men and do not own property or land titles.

If more women are involved in agriculture, their awareness of the nation's contribution will be raised and gender norms and stereotypes will be broken down. A higher number of women in agriculture would lead to higher productivity, a reduction in the gender gap in the sector and greater gender balance, especially in rural areas. Once women are more involved in agriculture and run it like a business, they own and have control over resources such as land, credit, inputs and other innovations. Moreover, women have a natural strength that facilitates access to markets for agricultural products. Women are always innovating, so a higher proportion of women would encourage the creation of rural women's organisations or platforms such as Women in Ag where achievements, successes and concerns can be voiced.
It is important to promote women and their achievements because it opens the doors for many women to do amazing things to rise above gender norms and shine in the world. Promoting women spurs them to do better because their work and efforts are appreciated.



Sheila Zulu is an agronomist and agricultural solutions specialist working for AGCO Corporation at the AGCO Future Farm in Zambia. She is also a certified agronomy trainer and a public speaker who is passionate about raising awareness about farming as a business and other interventions that help develop farmers' capacities.

She specialises in crop production, crop nutrition, crop protection, harvesting and storage techniques. She has more than 15 years of experience in practices and programmes aimed at developing best agricultural practices to improve the profitability of agriculture and safeguard farmers' livelihoods.

Sheila is a member of the Advisory Board of the Alliance for Modernising African Agri-food Systems and a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

Sheila has previously worked in the agricultural insurance industry, in the seed industry with strong involvement in seed production and marketing, and in agricultural conservation programmes for smallholder farmers.

Academically, she holds an MSc degree in Agricultural Science and Production Systems from Harper Adams University (UK), a BTech degree in Agricultural Management from the University of South Africa, a National Diploma in Agricultural Crop Science from the Natural Resources Development College and an Insurance Diploma from the Zambia Insurance Business College. Sheila has completed courses in conservation agriculture and tillage techniques, seed inspection training, farm management information systems at BayWa and tractor driving and operation under the AGCO mechanisation training programme.

Dr. Jane Tapel
Director at Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering Philippines

When I was a little girl, I witnessed women, especially mothers, cultivating their own small piece of land to supplement the family income. Other women engage in agricultural activities such as processing their farm produce into food and/or selling their surplus farm produce in the community (barangay). In most cases, women are at the forefront of planting rice by hand, tending the fields (weeding, repairing the fields), harvesting, drying the grains and sometimes tamping by hand to obtain clean rice.

These farming activities seem very hard and full of drudgery, but it is an alternative to increase the family income and provide fresh and nutritious food for the children. I studied agricultural engineering in college, which is one of the priority courses for scholarships, with the thought that I can help farmers, especially women, enjoy farming by making it an easy and profitable task. As a practising agricultural engineer, I have noticed that in the past, when less machinery was used, there were more women in agriculture than today, when most farms are mechanised.

From this I have concluded that most women cannot operate the machines and are therefore displaced in the work. Given this scenario, there is a need to develop gender-responsive machinery and train women in mechanised agriculture to keep pace with technological change. The establishment of the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) slowly contributed to the transformation of the Philippine agricultural and fisheries sector into a modernised agricultural system.

The BAFE, which is the technical arm of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, led the development of the National Modernisation Plan for Agriculture and Fisheries, which is the basis for the government's infrastructure and machinery interventions. The plan takes gender considerations into account in the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of machinery components. This gives equal opportunities to all genders and allows us to recognise the unique role and contribution of women in promoting sustainable development.

As Deputy Director of BAFE, I ensure that women (especially female engineers) have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, as we consider competence and work performance as the main criteria. This strategy has contributed to more women studying agricultural engineering. And more professional agricultural engineers employed in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.


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