June 11, 2020
As part of our NextGen program, we recently posted some key messages from an address by our former conference scholar and Young Australian Farmer of the Year, Anika Molesworth in a webinar held for researchers in Pakistan. Not the usual networking led to their connection – Humera Iqbal and Anika Molesworth met on a global women in STEMM leadership program when they travelled to Antarctica together last year.
Sharing a keen interest in agriculture, youth and climate change, since returning home they have continued to work together – a true example of international collaboration in agriculture! Humera from Pakistan and Anika from Australia have joined together on online webinars to share ideas and learn from each other’s experiences. Both Humera and Anika have been delighted by the responses to these webinars and the great discussions had on improving farming in Pakistan, Australia and globally. Great to see what can happen when the NextGen collaborate. Here’s a short Q&A with them both:
Tell us about these webinars you’ve been running
I am managing Dairy-Beef project supported by the Australian Center for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and implemented by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Pakistan and the University of Melbourne, Australia. I am also leading “SheLeadsVet” initiative as a volunteer to support young livestock and veterinary community to address farming issues for sustainable development. During the COVID-19 pandemic all of the advisory services for smallholder farmers were restricted all of a sudden and unique challenges are being faced by farmers in production, marketing and in the overall food system. There was a need to understand the immediate impact of COVID-19 on food and agriculture. Global crisis either climate change or COVID-19 direly need to address solutions to sustain farming systems for food security and economic development. I am conducting a series of online webinars from the platform of “SheLeadsVet” to support farmers, farm advisors and policy makers to put some practicable recommendations in front of them by sharing diverse experiences from different parts of the world.
I have been absolutely honoured to join forces with Humera to be part of these webinars. Humera originally invited me to speak at the first webinar on how COVID-19 is impacting the agricultural sector. This got me doing a lot of reading and learning about the global implications of COVID-19 on farmers. The effects of this disease that are being felt are different for every agricultural industry, every region, every country. It was really eye-opening. After the first webinar was such a huge success I suggested that we run another on climate change (the other global crisis which is impacting the farming sector!). Humera was really supportive of the idea so we set a date! She organised an amazing line-up of speakers (I have been so impressed with the high caliber of people speaking on the webinars) and again we had a terrific online event with great discussion.
How is this international collaboration benefiting Pakistani and Australian farmers?
We all know that working together is important, we hear it all the time. But often words fall short of action. At this point in time, when farmers face multiple environmental and social stressors, we really do need international collaboration and information sharing. As a farmer myself, I often think that we must support our global farming family, and I have a real desire to learn from other food producers. Australian farmers have a lot of knowledge and expertise to share. We have such a diversity of agricultural industries and environments here, so we have a lot of experience that we can impart to others. We can also learn a lot from how other farmers around the world are operating. I have been fascinated to learn about farming in Pakistan and after each webinar I have a whole page of notes from what I have learnt. We all need to strive for continual improvement, and these international webinars help us do just that.
For addressing the on-farm challenges faced by Pakistani smallholders, Australian researchers’ and scientists’ contribution has been always knowledgeable over the past many decades. Generally, in Pakistan, smallholder farmers have less access to resources and face low productivity issues. In return farmers are getting less profit in the market. But, during the current pandemic conditions when farmers are facing the threat of food insecurity apart from other challenges, the international collaboration in terms of webinars has helped to mobilise the efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Along with other speakers, Anika shared her experience as a farmer highly impacted by climate change and presented measures to make food available and affordable. The webinars will continue to find the ways to support farmers to keep going to produce food and connect them with the market.
How has this international collaboration benefited you personally?
I found international collaboration is the key to cultivate the real benefits of capacity development and diversity of ideas. The simple lesson which we (me and Anika) learnt from our leadership journey (Homeward Bound) was to believe that we are stronger together for common goals. Anika impressed me from the day first when I knew her, and that I can’t stop myself to say that skillful collaboration nurtures women’s roles to take resilient actions for the noble cause. The passion for working in collaboration fills me with more energy, and that alone I have power but collectively we have impact. Passion for working for SheLeadsVet initiative is looking for more meaningful collaboration in future.
Working with Humera has filled me with so much energy – I love being around people who are passionate about making a positive difference! This international collaboration has not only been greatly motivating for me personally, but it has challenged me to learn more about agriculture in Australia and other parts of the world. This global perspective and understanding is hugely important. We cannot solve the big challenges in agriculture through disjointed and isolated effort. In order to truly make a difference, we must come together. This includes learning to communicate in new ways, like online webinars, and stretching ourselves to grow confidence to share our own ideas and listen to others. Through international collaboration we can provide the scaffolding of support one another as we work towards a common vision of a healthy, vibrant planet.
You can access the webinar recordings here:
COVID-19 impacts on agriculture webinar: https://bit.ly/2YnjFQu
Climate change impacts on agriculture and solutions: https://bit.ly/3f8QBSH
You can learn more about Humera and Anika’s work via the following ways:
SheLeadsVet: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/humera-iqbal-28949b9b
Humera: Facebook: @Humera Hania, Twitter: @humera41
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: @AnikaMolesworth
Climate Wise Agriculture: www.ClimateWiseAgriculture @ClimateWiseAgricu