University of Sydney
Sponsored by the NSW Committee
Katherine is a researcher interested in livestock development and food security. She is currently doing a PhD with the University of Sydney working with the Mekong Livestock Research group on ACIAR-funded livestock extension programs in Cambodia and Laos. Katherine is particularly interested in investigating livestock interventions as a means of improving income, health and education levels amongst smallholder livestock owners and their families and the role that agriculture plays in alleviating poverty. The 2014 Crawford Fund conference presents an exciting opportunity to participate in food security discussions and meet other young scientists working in similar fields.
International agricultural research can be isolating at times and knowing that there are others out there passionate about the same issues gave me a sense of being part of a community moving towards a common goal”
Feeding the world’s growing population in a sustainable and ethical way is one of the most pressing issues that the world is facing today. Food insecurity, poverty and hunger currently negatively impact millions of people around the world and those of us in developed countries have a moral obligation to assist those who are less fortunate. As a young agricultural scientist working in developing countries I had heard a lot about the work done by the Crawford Fund in promoting awareness of these issues and supporting international agricultural research and was interested to learn more and engage with other people also interested in the same issues.
After successful application for sponsorship to attend the annual Crawford Fund Conference as part of the Crawford Fund’s Young Scholar’s Program I was lucky enough to travel to Canberra to attend the Crawford Fund’s 2014 Parliamentary Conference ‘Ethics, Efficiency and Food Security: Feeding the 9 Billion, Well” held from August 26th to August 28th 2014. The following are just some of the highlights from an engaging and inspiring conference that brought together some of the best speakers from around the world.
The 2014 Sir John Crawford Memorial address ‘Effective, Efficient, Ethical Solution to Feeding 9 Billion: Invest in Women’ given by Professor Catherine Bertini was undoubtedly one of the most inspiring talks I have had the privilege of hearing in recent times. Her emphasise on the role of women in agriculture and their potential contribution to addressing food security really struck a chord with me having seen firsthand in rural Cambodian villages the importance of women in their households and the potential to engage them to improve the livelihoods of their families. Her reflections on her career and the various roles she has held with different organisations was also inspiring as it showed that there really is no “glass ceiling” if you are dedicated and passionate about your work and have the ability to engage people on a personal level.
The Crawford Fund Conference itself was a thought provoking and captivating. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Rachel Kyte who providing an honest and frank assessment of the challenges that we are facing in feeding the world’s growing population and the need for a food system that is climate-smart, people-focused and planet friendly. I was also very impressed by Dr Elizabeth Finkel who provided a really interesting debate on the resistance to modern technology and the importance of using evidence when approaching issues such as GM crops.
I also really enjoyed the Young Scholar’s Day held after-the conference at the National Library. Hearing from The Hon John Kerin, Professor Catherine Bertini, Dr Nick Austin, world-renowned agricultural scientists Dr Tony Fischer and Dr Colin Chartres alongside young scientists with international agricultural experience was a wonderful opportunity and one that I came away from enthusiastic and inspired to continue my own experiences and work in the field. Also hearing Prof. Bertini, The Hon John Kerin and Dr Elizabeth Finkel address difficult questions during the 6th STA Topical Science Forum showed the complexity of food insecurity and the significance of the challenges we face. I was impressed by the responses given by the panel, particularly John Kerin, who demonstrated great insight and wisdom in his responses.
Lastly, being part of the Young Scholar’s Program and networking with the other young scientists from around Australia was a definite highlight of the conference for me. International agricultural research can be isolating at times and knowing that there are others out there passionate about the same issues gave me a sense of being part of a community moving towards a common goal. I am excited to keep in touch with the people that I met and continue on this journey towards a more ethical and efficient food system for the world. I thank the Crawford Fund for this opportunity and look forward to the 2015 Crawford Fund annual conference.