University of Sydney
…it would be greatly beneficial for both Agriculture and Environmental science students to be encouraged to explore each other’s fields and develop stronger mutual understandings to help tackle many of the big issues touched upon throughout the conference.
This year I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of representing the New South Wales Crawford Fund branch as a delegate student scholar to the 2012 Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference which focused on the major theme of food security. Although the conference was given from the perspective of International Agricultural Research and innovation, there were many central re-occurring themes pertinent to my background in Geography and Environmental Studies. These include the need for an integrated approach across disciplines and dichotomies for addressing problems of food security, natural resource management and international economic development.
There was significant focus on the need to improve agricultural production alongside environmental sustainability to reduce the long term effects of climate change which threaten long term agricultural production. Links between agricultural production and ecosystem services from forests along with the urban-rural interactions and population growth were identified as crucial areas for analysis as economic development transforms demographics and consumption patterns particularly in the developing world.
The importance of empowering women, particularly female smallholder farmers came up several times through the conference with a recognition of the role of women in growing, storing, buying and preparing food and thus the potential for engagement with women to help combat food security problems.
There is significant potential for environmental studies and agricultural science to cross over and compliment each other; especially in the context of a skills shortage in agricultural science and the need for greater environmental sustainability in farming systems. As a geography & environmental studies graduate from Sydney, agricultural science was never really something I gave much thought to until I started my honours project looking at smallholder coffee farmer livelihoods in Indonesia and economic development through global value chain linkages. From many of the people that I have spoken to at the conference it seems it would be greatly beneficial for both Agriculture and Environmental science students to be encouraged to explore each other’s fields and develop stronger mutual understandings to help tackle many of the big issues touched upon throughout the conference. This could be facilitated through greater cooperation between university faculties and encouragement of students to take subjects in each other’s fields.
The Crawford Fund’s aim of attracting young people into International Agricultural research by funding young scholars to attend the annual conference has very successfully opened my eyes to the exciting possibilities and opportunities available through agricultural research. This is both in terms of helping to tackle some of these big problems facing our world, but also in terms of the opportunity for a really interesting and rewarding career. I fully encourage any eligible students to take the time to look into the amazing possibilities available, and to consider applying for next year’s conference.