ALFRED BUTAO THE AGRONOMIST MODEL
Alfred Butao is a runway, fitness and commercial model. He is also a qualified agronomist who actively practices his profession, running a small consultancy for training smallholder farmers about aflatoxin and aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts and maize. With his Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy from LUANAR, Bunda College of Agriculture, he is a Plant Pathology employee at Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (ARET). In collaboration with his uncle, he is planting timber trees in his home village as part of his investments in the future as he plans on selling them to make profits in the long-run.
“Juggling two professions is a bit tricky as there are times when I am needed for a big modelling job and at the same time, I have to deal with a pressing matter in the field,” Alfred says.
“There are times when I can conveniently delegate to juniors so that I can do the modelling job but other times when they are caught up in more important tasks, I have to forego modelling because any mistimed activity in the field can cause up to 20% yield loss,” he adds. He has always had a deep passion for farming and plans to learn as much as he can share as he works towards owning a large farm of both crops and livestock so that he can create jobs for his fellow young people. Alfred believes improving Malawi’s food security and nutrition into the foreseeable future is going to require collaboration with more professionals in the agribusiness sector and other supporting industries as well as hard work on his part.
After reading a report by the World Bank from a few months ago which indicates the next generation of Africa’s billionaires will be farmers, Alfred believes it’s even more important now for young Malawians to get involved in farming. With current issues of climate change and rapid population growth, the need for agricultural products will increase exponentially giving young people who are growing their agricultural ventures the opportunity to make huge profits and expand their businesses. Alfred cites his personal experience with farming as being one that has been life-changing in teaching him to prepare for any possibility of catastrophe after a bad experience he had when he lost a whole field of groundnuts because of drought.
“I had not prepared for the possibility of losing a whole field of groundnuts to natural causes such as drought, that taught me a lot about preparedness,” he says. From his experiences, his understanding of the value chain for agribusiness is expanding, with him thinking of ways of adding his own value to the process. Currently working on a tobacco field, he finds farming to be a fulfilling profession as it allows him to make a difference in people’s lives through providing food and other agricultural products that improves their quality of life.
“Safe to say, I’ve been modelling for a little under a year. With modelling, I truly believe it is an art; just as painters are precise with each stroke of the brush, models too, pay attention to each stride, turn, facial expression and every shutter of the camera,” says Alfred. One of the biggest misconceptions people have about modelling is thinking it’s just a hobby and not a viable professional career. When in reality it’s a profession that is just as involving as any other in terms of preparing for it, learning more about it and executing a modelling job in the best possible way. Models are there to uniquely exhibit and parade the products of creatives, which requires them to invest time and money in making sure they take great pictures, poses and
walking in clothes and shoes that might uncomfortable sometimes; all of this to be done while maintaining high standards of professionalism.
Growing up, Alfred recalls relishing in the thought of taking up modelling but he found himself too shy to proactively pursue it. But that’s different now, Alfred attributes his exciting modelling journey to having a focused management team that supports and encourages each other. His manager Godfrey has pushed him to get to where he is now through linking him with his first ever professional gig with fashion designer “Gogodasi by Bruce” and his friend and co-model, Paulstatic Tembo. That led to a series of both small and big gigs which have paved the way to his current standing in the modelling industry.
From his experience in the modelling industry, Alfred dedicates himself to continuously invest in his body through regular exercise and healthy diet. He hopes to see the modelling industry taking on a better stance on ensuring models are paid enough for their work which often times involves the models putting in their own funds in transportation and accommodation when arrangements can be made between designers, organizers and the models to make sure everyone is paid fairly.
With his sights set on modelling on the international scenes and participating in bigger and better paying fashion exhibitions, Alfred is working to grow his brands beyond where they are at present.
“I have been ridiculed for both of my professions even from people closest to me but I have learnt to push past all those limits to really going after my dreams,” he says. He encourages young people to keep working towards their goals even when people try to influence you with their fears and doubts. There is so much money to be made from agriculture, agribusiness and modelling, all of which need you to be focused and relentless if you are to make a sustainable and viable career out of them.