Researcher, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture – Dairy Centre
Sponsored by the Tasmanian Committee
Lydia is based in the Dairy Centre of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture where role as a social researcher crosses into other agricultural areas, including international research for development. This year she has become involved in the ACIAR project: Developing productive and profitable smallholder beef enterprises in Central Vietnam. Her PhD and post-doctoral research focused on dairy pasture agronomy. Lydia has developed a capacity in social research, and her interests include knowledge transfer, decision making and adoption processes.
There were many opportunities at the Crawford Fund Conference to discuss projects, personal goals and the bigger picture of meeting global feed demand in a down-to-earth, friend-to-friend context… I’ve come back to Tasmania feeling inspired, with some valuable contacts and a clearer direction about how to continue moving forward in the international development space.”
The Crawford Fund Conference was inspiring, informative and interactive; a highlight of 2014 for me as an early career researcher interested in international development. The speakers came from around the world, as leaders of a variety of impressive organisations, and it was a privilege to be in the audience. The message they delivered was that research and capacity building are increasingly needed to meet global food demand. The importance of doing this ethically and efficiently, and with sensitivity to cultural and gender differences was emphasised. While the content of the formal sessions was inspiring and informative, it was the interaction with speakers and other conference delegates that provided the most benefit for me.
This year I’ve become involved in the social research components of the ACIAR project: Developing productive and profitable smallholder beef enterprises in Central Vietnam. The social research components revolve around beef value chain analysis and knowledge exchange and adoption pathways in Vietnamese smallholder cultures. I’ve also been given the responsibility of pursuing further international research opportunities for the TIA Dairy Centre over the next year. Along with my UTAS colleague Alison Hall, I was excited to receive the scholarship to attend the Crawford Fund Conference as it was clear that developing relationships with other researchers in this space, drawing on their experiences and forging potential collaborations are needed as we pursue greater involvement in international development work. I was not disappointed by the networking opportunities that the conference provided and feel that we were able to start this essential process.
There were many opportunities at the Crawford Fund Conference to discuss projects, personal goals and the bigger picture of meeting global feed demand in a down-to-earth, friend-to-friend context. There was time to seek out people of interest at the networking dinner, between formal conference sessions over a cuppa, at the Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) launch and during the Scholars’ Day. It was fantastic to see that more experienced delegates were enthusiastic about interacting with less experienced delegates; they were generous in their encouragement to actively pursue our interests and goals of working in international development. I felt that this positive attitude and the deliberate coordination of sessions on the Scholar’s Day around capacity building for early career researchers, has helped me feel more comfortable about approaching others already established in the field, including early career peers already involved in international development work, well-recognised leaders in the field, and those in ACIAR management.
The highlights of my experience as a Crawford Fund Scholar were the RAID launch and the Scholars’ Day. There was a sense of excitement and camaraderie at both of these events, with early career enthusiastic delegates making the most of the opportunity to get to know and glean wisdom from the more seasoned delegates (who were equally enthusiastic!). The Scholars’ Day was full of useful, take-home content about future possibilities and smallholder farming projects, and it was there that Alison and I enjoyed a long discussion with leaders/managers of some existing ACIAR dairy projects. I’m very grateful to have been sponsored to attend such a professional yet practical event! I’ve come back to Tasmania feeling inspired, with some valuable contacts and a clearer direction about how to continue moving forward in the international development space.