Before leaving her native Algeria where snow falls “once every 20 years”, Yasmina Larbi-Youcef feared the Canadian climate. The week of his departure, the news channels indicated –40 ° C in Montreal. However, since her first frosty winter, this enthusiast has cherished all the seasons in Quebec and the harvests that result from it.
In the granary of Quebec that is Montérégie, Mr.me Larbi-Youcef has become a “magnet” for farmers, one of his colleagues confides on the phone. “All the farmers want to join her. »Modeste, the main interested party explains that her job consists of” helping farmers to be competitive, economically profitable, while having farms that are sustainable and respectful of the environment “.
Yasmina Larbi-Youcef combines responsibilities: member of the admissions committee of the Order of Agronomists, member of the review committee for scientific articles and previously president of its regional section of the Order of Agronomists. Before becoming a recognized figure, however, she had to swap the cultivation of citrus fruits for that of berries and winter vegetables.
Not having been born on a farm, young Yasmina was content with walks in the countryside. “Since I was little, my hands have always been in the earth, in the garden. We put it all over the walls, ”she says, laughing, her face flooded with sunlight. After a diploma in agricultural engineering in Algeria, she worked there in vegetable crops for more than ten years. When she decides to try her luck in Quebec, it is on the “condition sine qua non »To remain in agriculture.
Successful bet, because this transfer goes smoothly. Arriving in February 2004, she obtained her title of Chartered Agronomist the same year, some equivalences and an exam later. “I was not disadvantaged compared to others. We were all on an equal footing, and that I really appreciated. “
I often worked in the countryside and the producers can speak a language that was not easily accessible to me. Quebecois French sounded different in my ears, used to Parisian French.
However, only one small detail is wrong when it arrives on North American soil. “Three quarters of the time” she does not understand her clients. “I often worked in the countryside and the producers can speak a language that was not easily accessible to me. Quebecois French sounded different in my ears, used to Parisian French. Three months working in the customer service department of a garden center and the job was done. “In fact, it’s just a habit. At the start, there are words that you don’t get right away. We make people rehearse and, by dint of hearing them, we get used to it. “
As for the accent, YasminaLarbi-Youcef quickly adapts to the productions of her new country. For example, she says she sees a “complementarity” between the pork and beef industries in Quebec and that of lamb in Algeria. “Discovering other cultures is just a challenge, and challenges, I love it from a professional point of view. The diversity of Quebec products also visibly charms her. “Maple syrup, I fell right into it,” she said, all smiles. It’s a divine nectar, there is nothing to complain about! “
In 2017, Mme Larbi-Youcef obtains a master’s degree in environment. It was then that it branched off from agronomy to agroenvironment, a branch that aimed to curb pollution in the field of agriculture.
Now settled in Sainte-Martine for 10 years, she surveys the territory to ensure that agricultural production respects the quality of the air, water and the diversity of species.
Above all, she coordinates a program that is unique in Quebec, which “compensates producers who produce ecosystem goods and services,” she explains. Thanks to financial and logistical support, farmers are giving up farming part of their fields. “They decide to put in arrangements that will be beneficial for biodiversity, such as planting trees, windbreaks, shrubs, and widening the riparian strip. »Thus, endangered species find a habitat in which to thrive, even if the price of a hectare is now close to $ 40,000 in Montérégie.
In addition, she confides that she has always been well received by the agricultural community here. “I have never felt apprehension on the part of the farmers. On the contrary. What they are looking for is a competent person. […] What the producer wants is for us not to be asphalt agronomists, as they often say. Agronomists who have lived experience, who have experience, who will be able to support them: that is what they are looking for. “
While a blanket of cold is currently covering the fields, Yasmina Larbi-Youcef already says he is counting on next spring. She is sowing the seeds of projects that will bloom during the following beautiful season. “An agronomist does not stop, even in winter.