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Determination and a drive to learn: The journey to becoming a leading woman food technician

As a food technician at our Rondonópolis biodiesel plant in Brazil, Edilaine Almeida da Fonseca helps to maintain the high quality of our products through in-depth laboratory analysis.

Specialising in soybean and biodiesel, she is responsible for overseeing quality from the arrival of the raw material to the extraction of vital ingredients and creation of the final product. She believes that women have plenty of opportunities in the agricultural sector. However, there are still some obstacles and perceptions to overcome, with women sometimes having to work harder to prove themselves professionally in the face of bias, despite being capable and wanting to make a difference in society.

With a longstanding interest in science and the environment, Edilaine holds a postgraduate degree in environmental technology, and had always imagined working in a laboratory. She was keen to work for COFCO International, as a recognised company in the Brazil agri-industry. It has been a great learning experience, both at a technical and product level, with Edilaine exploring in the physical chemical analysis of biodiesel for the first time.

Importantly, she had also heard good feedback about the business being a welcoming and supportive company. Joining in 2018, initially on a temporary basis, she enjoyed being part of the team, and soon progressed to a senior laboratory analyst. She has embraced the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, as the business itself continues to innovate and expand.

In her area, there are still relatively few women, yet numbers of women food technicians have increased significantly since she began her career in 2009. Despite the challenge of gender bias that exists in Brazil for women in agriculture, Edilaine has received good support at COFCO International, with welcoming colleagues and the flexibility to balance her family responsibilities with her work. She sees no limits for her development, as the most important aspect of all is her willingness to learn and improve, which has no gender.

Women should always give their best, build their confidence and never give up, she believes. More women are achieving their dreams of working in scientific roles and there are opportunities for many more to take part in the future of food and agriculture.

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