Knowing that there are other people who want to make a difference is inspiring and encouraging.
As a student at the end of my honours year and about to find my own career path in this sector, having the opportunity to attend this conference was an invaluable experience. I would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Crawford Fund.
After listening to speakers, talking to attendees, and being surrounded by so many people who are passionate about agriculture, has re-sparked my interest in working in agriculture and development. In particular, being able to help improve livelihoods of small-scale farmers in developing countries. This conference has inspired me to believe that this is not a lost cause, and that there are in fact many things we, from the developed world could do directly or indirectly to improve these situations. As we saw during the conference, even something simple and small can make a difference.
Knowing that there are other people who want to make a difference is inspiring and encouraging. This validates that ‘yes’ this is the type of work I would like to dedicate my career to as I have seen how people working in this area approach the same issues, but arriving at answers using different methods.
Having the chance to meet so many people at all levels, hear their experiences, and receive their advice was a major highlight of the conference. I found the attendees were kind, and genuinely interested in offering advice and sharing knowledge with me as a young person just starting out in this field. Being able to meet and to form friendships with fellow students who are also passionate about agriculture and with whom I will likely cross paths in the future was another important aspect of the conference. Developing these connections, and knowing who I could contact for advice or knowledge, will I believe will be truly invaluable.
I found the presentations to be of a very high calibre, and I have learnt of different approaches to issues both new and known to me. However, there were two key points that have kept me thinking in the weeks since the conference. The first was the importance of environmental protection for food security, and not to regard them as dichotomies working against each other, but rather that they can work to help each other. Professor Foley illustrated this particularly well in his presentation ‘Can We Feed a Growing World and Sustain the Planet?’. Listening to him and other speakers I can see how difficult this may be to achieve.
The second is a phenomenon Professor Bai discussed in her presentation ‘Landscape Urbanisation and Food Security’. This is a dichotomy for developing countries where they want to pursue economic development to improve the standard of living, however this leads to increasing urbanisation which in turn reduces the availability of land for food production. The conflict between the two really arises in the resulting need to feed a growing city. Professor Bai pointed out most countries have policies for both economic and agriculture development, which are often in conflict. How are we to resolve this?
Again. I would like to thank the Crawford Fund for the opportunity they gave me to attend, and I would definitely encourage other students to avail themselves of this experience in the future.