News: Capacity-building for the future in Tasmania, May 2015

In a new initiative, the Tasmanian Committee is offering a Scholarship to young people at the University of Tasmania who are interested in a career in international agricultural research.

This is to promote the goals of the Crawford Fund as well as help to build up a group of keen young workers to further Tasmania’s and Australia’s aid program in developing countries. The funds are to be spent on the research project (travel and operating expenses), not on a stipend.

Two outstanding applications were received this year so both will be supported. While the Crawford Fund does not normally fund research as such, this is seen as an important step towards capacity-building for the future. The Scholarship holders are also helping facilitate activities of the Young Crawford Group at the University of Tasmania.

The Queensland Committee is also offering special scholarships.

More information on this year’s Tasmanian awardees is below:

MiriamMcCormackMiriam McCormack
“I am currently undertaking my fourth year of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus in Hobart… over the course of the last few years, I have been inspired to seek out work that will see me partner with farmers in developing countries to look for solutions and innovations to improve livelihoods and systems in developing nations.”

Miriam is investigating “Farmer champions and knowledge transfer in south-central Vietnam”, with supervisors Dr Lydia Turner, Dr David Parsons, and Associate Professor Laurie Bonney of TIA, and Consultant Mr Jeff Corfield of Townsville. “Farmer champions” were identified from a previous ACIAR project, sharing knowledge and resources with other farmers in the area, leading to adoption by a secondary group termed “scale-out” farmers independently of the ACIAR project. This project is examining this process through interviews to determine relationships and patterns of geographical spread of information. This will help to fill the gap between research findings and the process of knowledge transfer to farmers, not just in Vietnam but elsewhere as well.

Elya RichardsonElya Richardson
“I am currently in my fourth and final year of my Agricultural Science degree at the University of Tasmania… Since commencing my degree in 2012, I have developed a strong interest in international agriculture. This scholarship has enabled me to pursue my interest in international agriculture. I am looking forward to returning to Vietnam in July to run an experiment looking at improving cassava root silage quality. This project has given me a fantastic opportunity to meet people involved in agricultural research and also to gain insight into agricultural practices in a different country and culture.”

Elya is investigating “Improving cassava silage production for small-holder beef cattle producers in NW Vietnam” with Dr Stephen Ives and Dr David Parsons as supervisors. Limited supplemental feed could make a huge difference to cattle productivity in one of the poorest areas of Vietnam. The use of local cassava leaves (high in protein) and roots (high in carbohydrate) in properly prepared silage offers great possibilities if some technical constraints can be overcome, not least being the cyanide content of some cassava components.