News: Our conference scholar reflections delivered by… Victoria, October 2018

The Crawford Fund has a number of programs to encourage the next generation in international agriculture for development – in their studies, careers and in volunteering.

There’s our opportunities in volunteering for projects overseas through the Australian Volunteers Program; our work with Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID), and our special international student awards to enable students to be involved in overseas projects as part of university study.

Our conference scholarship program started in 2010 in the hope that by experiencing the Crawford Fund conference and network, our special program of activities around the conference and being mentored by inspirational experienced researchers, young researchers would be inspired and energised to be more involved.

Our competitive Conference Scholarships are offered to young people with a genuine interest in international agricultural research and development to attend the conference and a special set of activities that we have developed since the program commenced in 2010. Our conference scholar alumni now stands at almost 270.

One of the requirements of the scholarship is that each scholar provides us with a reflection on their experience and we will be providing those reflections over the coming weeks, grouped by State.

Once again, we would like to thank our wonderful mentors who volunteer their time and offer valuable guidance, support and insights to the scholars throughout the conference. Our scholars’ mentors are listed with each scholar’s report.

Eight scholars from Victoria attended the 2018 Crawford Fund conference – four supported by our Victorian Committee, two supported by the Gardiner Foundation, and one each supported by Marcus Oldham College and Melbourne University.

VIC Committee Sponsored Scholars

Maree Bouterakos, Deakin University and UN FAO

“Over the three days I spent with the dedicated team that represents the Crawford Fund and fellow scholars, it was clear that much of the strength of the organisation rests on the ongoing investment in mentorship. The commitment of my mentor, Ted Hayes, and all the other mentors, in sharing their knowledge and experiences to the younger generation of scientists, was admirable.”

Stefanie Carino, Monash University

“It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling alone in tackling a problem that you aim to improve in your career and research, however I felt that the Crawford Fund Conference experience was a great opportunity to be around like-minded people who are achieving and working on very important projects. It helped to inspire and motivate me and realise that we are part of a broader community all working on different projects but together can make a big impact…”

Abbey Dyson, RMIT University

“This program was one of the first professional networking events I have attended, and the mentor pairing provided necessary support in navigating the learning curve. My mentor Lucy Brown, Deputy Program Director for The Australian Volunteer Program, encouraged me to ask questions, network with professionals and recognise my worth and place in such a foreign setting. I have come away from the experience with a greater understanding of the industry, current research and pathways into international development…I truly believe that the benefits of this experience are unforeseen and exponential.”

Stephanie Prado, Deakin University

“The Crawford Fund Conference was a gratifying and empowering experience in which I was able to open up new doors and opportunities for myself. It was inspiring to be amongst various people with different expertise and walks of life. It truly cemented the belief that we never stop learning, improving, and growing as a person. Furthermore, as a nutrition student, I felt elated in knowing that I had so much more to learn about agriculture science. It also iterated my passion for public health nutrition and made me realise my purpose as a future dietitian.”

Gardiner Foundation Sponsored Scholars

Kiana Barrie-Gresham, The University of Melbourne

“Bookended by tailored scholar days coordinated by RAID, the networking activities with other scholars and mentors alike fostered an undeniable sense of connectedness, openness and friendship, a feature of the agricultural sector specifically that I have come to appreciate. Surrounded by motivated and in many ways selfless individuals striving to make a difference, the scholar days highlighted the diverse contributions available for students like myself to make, most of which I was not previously aware.”

Tim Luke, Agriculture Victoria and La Trobe University

“Despite the potentially overwhelming scale and complexity of the challenge of feeding a world of 9 billion people well, my overwhelming feeling on leaving the Crawford Fund Conference was one of hope. Engaging with so many amazing people from different disciplines highlighted to me that if we break large, complex challenges down into their smaller component parts, we also reduce the complexity and size of the required solutions. Through trans-disciplinary communication and collaboration, each and all of us can help to create small pieces of the big puzzle. I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate!”

Marcus Oldham College Sponsored Scholar

Sophia Hoffenberg, Marcus Oldham College and NSW Department of Primary Industries

“The integrated nature of the Conference that enabled me to network with a wide range of key national and international constituents alongside students and young professionals like myself was highly beneficial. This experience enabled me to engage in stimulating conversations of the issues surrounding global agriculture today and debate our continuing efforts to alleviate the burdens of the world…”

Melbourne University Sponsored Scholar

Georgia O’Shea, The University of Melbourne

“I encourage everyone interested in international agricultural development to get involved in RAID and the Crawford Fund and take every opportunity to get out and network as this is how you will connect with like-minded people and discover what truly inspires you to help people and improve global agriculture.”

VIC COMMITTEE

Maree Bouterakos, Deakin University and UN FAO

Mentor: Ted Hayes OAM, Crawford Fund Victoria Committee

Though consensus exists on pathways through which agriculture can influence nutrition, there remain several gaps in evidence on agriculture’s contribution to nutrition and how the food system underpins nutrition and food security. My involvement in the 2018 Crawford Fund Conference, “Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition”, provided a clearer picture, further closing this gap in research and practice, in Australia and internationally.

All of the panellists presented interesting approaches on how to bridge the link between agriculture and nutrition security. The presentations provided enormous insights into distinguished professionals careers and personal lives, which is often not shared so openly at conferences. I particularly enjoyed listening to Marco Wopereis, from the World Vegetable Center, about his thrilling life and dedication to agriculture and nutrition across Africa and Asia. Jessica Fanzo from Johns Hopkins University, cemented the global nutrition situation, and highlighted the economic cost, and also the current economic investment in nutrition, which is completely unbalanced. This was particularly relevant given the prominent and powerful figures attending the conference. She stressed the need for a multi-stakeholder platform, and forming connections, which is in fact what the Crawford Fund Conference enabled the attendees to do. The main message from Jessica’s speech was; ‘Improving nutrition is a catalyst for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’.

It was a privilege to hear from Tania Paul from Charles Darwin University and Philmah Seta Waken representing the National Agriculture Research Institute in Papua New Guinea. I was captivated by their stories and imagery, and innovation in adopting multiple communication strategies in their work in PNG. Their devotion to nutrition security and improving the livelihoods of communities in PNG, is indeed admirable. I have since had the opportunity to present my key learnings and these reflections to a wider audience of academics at Deakin University, which has facilitated many interesting discussions.

It was inspiring to hear from other young scientists, representing a range of professional backgrounds. I was in awe of their education and career journey, their aspirations and motivation to connect agriculture to nutrition security, at home and abroad. I too felt grateful to share my experiences in international development with those who shared similar commitments and concerns about food and nutrition security. Furthermore, it was comforting to look around the room and see many young women representing this field. This signifies a shift in the sector, but also a shift more broadly of women in the workforce.

Over the three days I spent with the dedicated team that represents the Crawford Fund and fellow scholars, it was clear that much of the strength of the organisation rests on the ongoing investment in mentorship. The commitment of my mentor, Ted Hayes, and all the other mentors, in sharing their knowledge and experiences to the younger generation of scientists, was admirable. I will be forever grateful Ted’s wisdom, his approachable and modest nature, for past and future fruitful discussions and for his willingness in facilitating key connections.

Overall, the Crawford Fund Conference was an inspiring experience and the chance to become part of a thriving network of professionals who share similar passions and aspirations in the field of agriculture and nutrition. I wish to thank the Crawford Fund for this incredible experience and look forward to future engagement.

Stefanie Carino, Monash University

Mentor: Tony Gregson AM, Crawford Fund Board

The 2018 Crawford Conference scholar’s program was a thoroughly enjoyable, thought provoking and motivating experience. The theme ‘Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition: The Agriculture-Food-Nutrition-Health Nexus’ was well chosen, highly relevant and topical, and particularly exciting as a dietitian.

The parliamentary conference was packed with highly knowledgeable experts in the field, a wonderful selection of both men and women doing very important and useful research in agriculture. It started with the stark reality of the current food system presented by Dr Alessandro Demaio. Food that is currently being produced is not in line with what we should be eating. He addressed the environmental burden caused by the food system and that a healthy planet is vital for healthy people, realising the challenge of feeding a growing population on a healthy and sustainable diet. Dr Jessica Fanzo followed perfectly, providing detail of the consequences of poor nutrition. Malnutrition has a double burden, undernutrition along with overweight/obesity or diet related non-communicable diseases. It also has lifelong social and economic impacts. She called on the audience to act on the SDGs and drive change in the whole food system.

The following speakers detailed innovative and interesting research. Some key messages included that although vegan and vegetarian diets may help with climate change, it does not fit every situation as livestock provides critical nutrition in low and middle-income countries. ICRISAT’s concept ‘Smart Food: good for you, the planet and the farmer” called for the use of millet as a solution to climate change and move beyond the current 3 staples to improve food and nutrition security in developing countries. Traditional vegetables were discussed to help tackle malnutrition in developing countries. Research was presented on the lower concentration of micronutrients in aquaculture produced fish. The impact of increased carbon dioxide levels on crops was highlighted as it results a decrease in iron and zinc levels in C3 grains.

The perfect framing to the conference was the two days of the scholar’s program, which was wonderfully well thought out and reaped many benefits. It was invaluable to have a helpful, friendly and knowledgeable mentor – to hear about their career, agriculture experience, and for them to assist with networking and provide advice. Connecting with other scholars and hearing of their roles and research in the agriculture field opened my mind to the work that is currently being done in the field. As I am about to start a PhD, it was very useful to learn of others’ experience. As someone without an agricultural background or exposure to the agriculture industry, the conference allowed me to develop a true appreciation for farmers, agriculture and the power of agricultural research for international development, which I hope to share with others. It was good to have the opportunity to appreciate their critical importance in feeding the world and their potential to impact the environment both positively and negatively.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling alone in tackling a problem that you aim to improve in your career and research, however I felt that the Crawford experience was a great opportunity to be around like-minded people who are achieving and working on very important projects. It helped to inspire and motivate me and realise that we are part of a broader community all working on different projects but together can make a big impact, especially in achieving the SDGs so that no one gets left behind. I have endless thanks to Crawford Fund for providing this experience.

Abbey Dyson, RMIT University

Mentor: Lucy Brown, Australian Volunteers Program

Being invited to attend the Crawford Fund Conference for 2018 as a scholar has been and will forever be an unforgettable and beneficial experience. Coming from an environmental science background, I was surprised to find my lack of knowledge in the conference topic did not detract from my experience in Canberra. If anything, I believe it encouraged me to be more open and receptive to the activities held over the 3-day period. Overall, I returned to Melbourne with a new perspective on agriculture as a discipline, science as an industry and communication as a necessary skill. The resounding message I took from the conference and scholarly activities was that in an Anthropocene age of simultaneous over and under nourishment, communication and multidisciplinary skills are vital in working towards the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030.

During the conference, many varying angles of the topic were addressed. The ones of greatest interest to me incorporated sustainability and environmental issues to the nexus. Dr Alessandro Demaio discussed nutrition in the face of a growing population, which I understand was a point of interest for Sir John Crawford himself. He touched on the benefits of a plant-based diet for both people and planet as well as the need to reduce waste in all stages of food production, all of which will lead to improvements within the agricultural industry whilst protecting our water systems and preserving soil quality. Additionally, Joanna Kane-Potaka’s presentation on ‘Smart Food- good for you, the planet and the farmer’ explored the benefits of crops that satisfy a greater spectrum of criteria in terms of nutrient content, recourse requirements and resilience. Environmentally, forward thinking products, like Millets, are essential in mitigating the effects of climate change. Finally, Professor Robyn Alders’ Synthesis to conclude the conference gripped me. Her frank and realistic manner brought perspective to the challenges faced by the industry and individuals, particularly female scientists. On that note, it was pleasing to see all speakers address the challenges faced by women globally and how their work promoted gender equality and empowerment in developing countries and at home.

I believe that I benefited from the conference and scholarly activities in many ways and I have the Crawford Fund and RAID to thank immensely for that. This program was one of the first professional networking events I have attended, and the mentor pairing provided necessary support in navigating the learning curve. My mentor Lucy Brown, Deputy Program Director for The Australian Volunteer Program, encouraged me to ask questions, network with professionals and recognise my worth and place in such a foreign setting. I have come away from the experience with a greater understanding of the industry, current research and pathways into international development.

Additionally, the friendships I formed with fellow scholars will be invaluable both socially and professionally, most of which is due to RAID and the networking events they organised around the conference.

Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that encouraged, facilitated and supported my attendance of the Crawford Fund Conference and Scholars Program. Special thanks to my two mentors, Dr Samantha Grover and Lucy Brown. Without either of these inspiring women, I would not have attended and had the opportunity for such great personal and professional development. I truly believe that the benefits of this experience are unforeseen and exponential.

Stephanie Prado, Deakin University

Mentor: Bosibori Bett, ACIAR

The Crawford Fund Conference (CFC) would have to be one of the biggest highlights of 2018. As a nutrition student nearing the end of the undergraduate study, the inevitable question of, “What now?” lingers. However, being one of the selected scholars has elevated these concerns.

The CFC was a gratifying and empowering experience in which I was able to open up new doors and opportunities for myself. It was inspiring to be amongst various people with different expertise and walks of life. It truly cemented the belief that we never stop learning, improving, and growing as a person. Furthermore, as a nutrition student, I felt elated in knowing that I had so much more to learn about agriculture science. It also iterated my passion for public health nutrition and made me realise my purpose as a future dietitian.

Empowered, I now have the aspiration to also pursue agricultural science so that I can help make a difference in decreasing the burden of disease on a bigger scale; both in Australia and internationally. Though the conference day was overwhelming with so many astonishing speakers, I have learnt so much.

Firstly, it was inspiring to see the impact researchers have on the livelihood of communities in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea. The CFC further iterates the importance nutrition and agriculture research has on tackling hunger, food insecurity, and sustainability. Moreover, it taught me that tackling world problems is a collaborative multidisciplinary team effort. There were many speakers such as Dr Sandro Demaio, Dr Jessica Fanzo, Professor Andrew Campbell, and Dr Anna Okello who showed us recent research and statistics. They also spoke about different terms, which I have learnt in the classroom, and placed them in real-world applicable contexts such as livestock differences between third world countries and Australia. Importantly, the terms environmental changes, climate change, policy governances in food, nutrition, water and health systems, were mentioned a few times. The CFC successfully stuck to the topic ‘For a Food Secure World’.

The conference also taught us the various determinants that contribute to health and nutrition. Additionally, the CFC showed the importance of tackling climate change, and the ways that different sectors can work towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Personally, it created a new goal for me. The goal is to become a food systems policy maker that aids in creating environments where there are sustainable, harmony and biodiverse food supply.

On a bigger note, the biggest lesson from the CFC is the importance of networking, mentoring, and communication. There were so many well-spoken inspirational people that have contributed self-development, growth, and clarity. Lastly, the CFC has embedded the belief in serendipity; the importance of being reactive and proactive in whatever you come across in life. I have learnt to deliberately seek out compelling opportunities that strongly resonate with my beliefs, and my entrepreneurial instinct to continue exploring, discovering, and learning things that fire my passion to make a difference in the world.

GARDINER FOUNDATION

Kiana Barrie-Gresham, The University of Melbourne

Mentor: David McGill, Crawford Fund Victoria Committee

The 2018 Crawford Fund Conference – Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition: The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus epitomised the way in which all disciplines share a common connection in the food that we produce and consume globally. As a current undergraduate student with minimal experience in the international development sector, I was excited by the prospect of understanding agricultural contributions in developing countries and was further delighted when I realised the magnitude of multi-disciplinary collaboration in industry that is essential for ongoing success.

The conference speakers captured all aspects of the supply chain from preliminary research to consumer preference in the double burden challenge of nutrition faced in both developing and developed countries. In addition to overarching sustainability themes, the resonating messages for me were delivered early in the conference, specifically by both Dr Alessandro Demaio and Dr Jessica Fanzo, though were echoed by all speakers. The somewhat bleak image of the current nutrition challenges, specifically the double burden, explored the nexus model of the conference and highlighted the undeniable need for global change in this space. With its inexplicable link to agricultural production, and thus my future career, all speakers alluded to the notion in which the battle of producing better food often with less resources, and in larger quantities, is not one fought alone but rather has a diverse load of responsibility. This resonated with me in the realisation that the animal production or cropping sectors of the agricultural industry within which I hope to work, are only one part of a large team responsible for the success in this challenge, and similar to the conference itself requires the expertise of professionals in nutrition and health sectors, science and marketing.

Bookended by tailored scholar days coordinated by RAID, the networking activities with other scholars and mentors alike fostered an undeniable sense of connectedness, openness and friendship, a feature of the agricultural sector specifically that I have come to appreciate. Surrounded by motivated and in many ways selfless individuals striving to make a difference, the scholar days highlighted the diverse contributions available for students like myself to make, most of which I was not previously aware. My mentor, David McGill, was invaluable in providing initial introductions and platforms for potential volunteering opportunities and networks, in addition to his wealth of knowledge and approachable sense of humour – for this I am most grateful.

Personally, the conference has been yet another step out of my comfort zone and an inspiring milestone in my studies, provoking questions of future goals and largely guiding facets of my career path which may otherwise have been void of a valuable contribution to global food security. I returned to university with a renewed sense of motivation, and goals to ensure that my fellow peers are enlightened to the opportunities and value in seeking involvement in the international space throughout university study and beyond.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Crawford Fund, its sponsors and speakers for a valuable and rich mentoring and conference experience, in addition to the Gardiner Foundation for sponsoring my attendance at this inspiring event. The diverse network of professionals and scholars and my undeniably broadened perspective of the international sector are invaluable benefits I have been privileged to gain.

Tim Luke, Agriculture Victoria and La Trobe University

Mentor: Jenny Hanks, Crawford Fund Victoria Committee

If I had to summarise my reflections on the 2018 Crawford Fund Conference, “Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition” with a single word, it would be “complexity”. The fact that obesity and over-nutrition are now as big an issue facing the population as under-nutrition, was a stark reminder of how complex a challenge we face in feeding the growing world population well. From debates about the role of Government regulation versus individual and corporate responsibility, to comparisons in the relative merits of global initiatives versus small-scale local projects, this year’s conference clearly demonstrated to me the immense complexity of world food systems, and the equally significant challenges we face in improving them.

One of the most interesting topics for me, that recurred throughout the day’s sessions, was that of responsibility: in very simple terms, whose responsibility is it to ensure that the world’s people are fed, and fed well? In his presentation, Dr Sandro Demaio referenced recent changes to the laws in Norway that ban advertising of junk food to children. He argued that Governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from corporate interests. This was refuted somewhat by former Deputy Prime Minister Mr John Anderson, who raised the issue of individual responsibility, especially in regard to the increasing problem of obesity. The complexity of this discussion increased further, following the presentation by Rebecca Boustead, who discussed the role of the corporate world in improving global nutrition. She outlined the efforts of the Kellogg’s company to improve the nutrition of its customers through breakfast delivery programs, and by improving the nutritional value of its brands. In the excellent Q & A session that followed her presentation, Ms Boustead gave a very insightful account of the challenges and opportunities she has faced trying to effect change from within a large organisation.

Closely related to the issue of responsibility, were several discussions on how to bring about beneficial changes in the eating habits of different sections of society. Again, I was struck by the complexity of the challenge, and by the vastly different scale of projects required to effect sustainable change. This was beautifully illustrated by the contrast between Professor Denning’s presentation on the World Health Organisations Sustainable Development Goals, and that of Philmah Seta Waken on bringing about lasting change in rural Papua New Guinea through local education programs.

A number of the presentations gave me reason to reflect on the complexity of the relationships between researchers and decision makers, often from wealthy developed countries, and those who are ultimately affected by decisions of these people. As a veterinarian, I was particularly interested in Dr Anna Okello’s presentation on the role of livestock agriculture in improving nutrition. A question from the floor focused on whether livestock agriculture should be encouraged in the developing world given its relatively large environmental impact. Dr Okello demonstrated that livestock are an integral part of the socio-economic fabric of smallholder communities, and their value transcends nutrition alone. She also argued that one cannot compare the dietary choices available to wealthy Australians consuming in excess of 100kg of meat per year, with those of subsistence farmers from east Africa who might consume only 8kg of meat per year. Similarly, Joanna Kane-Potaka’s presentation in which she advocated a move away from “the big 3” grains toward other staples such as sorghum and millet, reminded me of an interview I recently heard with Kevin Sieff from the Washington Post. While discussing the situation in the Dadaab refugee camp on the Kenyan-Somali border, he observed that,
“For a bunch of bureaucratic reasons, a lot of the food that the UN gets from the US is sorghum. I didn’t know what it is. And it turns out neither do the people in Dadaab…It’s a kind of cereal that they have no idea how to cook and that they don’t like. People usually barter it away.”

Despite the potentially overwhelming scale and complexity of the challenge of feeding a world of 9 billion people well, my overwhelming feeling on leaving the Crawford Fund Conference was one of hope. Engaging with so many amazing people from different disciplines highlighted to me that if we break large, complex challenges down into their smaller component parts, we also reduce the complexity and size of the required solutions. Through trans-disciplinary communication and collaboration, each and all of us can help to create small pieces of the big puzzle.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate!

MARCUS OLDHAM COLLEGE

Sophia Hoffenberg, Marcus Oldham College and NSW Department of Primary Industries

Mentor: Lisa Borthwick, ACIAR

It was my great pleasure to attend the 2018 Crawford Conference and it is an honour to count myself among the 2018 Crawford Conference Scholars. Through attendance at this year’s Crawford Conference, I absorbed an incredible amount of information surrounding the food and nutrition crisis prevailing in all societies around the world.

I particularly enjoyed Dr Madaline Healy’s presentation on the first scholar day about how to get the most out of mentoring. I was fortunate to stumble upon my now-mentor and it was reassuring to hear that Madeline’s experience, top tips and advice were in line with my own actions and experiences in the field of being a mentee. I found the mentoring program to be of further significance to my experience through the exposure my mentor afforded me through introductions to the keynote speakers, presenters and distinguished guests at all functions. I was fortunate to be matched with Lisa Borthwick, Director Outreach Services at ACIAR, who inspired me through her personal career journey and gave me confidence and support in networking throughout the event. The integrated nature of the Conference that enabled me to network with a wide range of key national and international constituents alongside students and young professionals like myself was highly beneficial. This experience enabled me to engage in stimulating conversations of the issues surrounding global agriculture today and debate our continuing efforts to alleviate the burdens of the world with like-minded intellectuals from all levels and areas of the industry.

Approaching this conference from a policy perspective and as a non-scientist, I found my immersion in the global research sphere to be enlightening in broadening my scope of understanding of the significant works conducted to combat nutrition issues globally. A particularly poignant point that highlighted the key messages of the conference for me was that no one individual group or sector can deliver ethical and ecologically sustainable human and animal diets – together we have to. Continually, we as a global society have prioritised economic growth over planetary healthy and it requires collaborative action to find the solutions for a food secure world. We need to drive disruptive innovation to close the nutrition equality gaps and ensure continuing sustainable evolution and management of our global food systems. Education sits at the heart of the nutrition movement as was proved evident by the plethora of case studies presented on the implementation of research projects throughout various third-world countries. Targeted education across all levels of industry is essential to correcting the circulation of misinformation to stimulate truths and generating sustainable impact at scale. The issue of food security is becoming an increasingly heavy burden on today’s global society and it is our collective responsibility and moral obligation to do all we can to bring the under- and over-nourished into the nutritionally viable nourishment the privileged experience today.

MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY

Georgia O’Shea, The University of Melbourne

Mentor: Sambasivam Periyannan, Australian National University & CSIRO

The 2018 Crawford Fund Conference and scholar program was centered around the theme, ‘Reshaping Agriculture for better nutrition – The agriculture, food, nutrition, health nexus’. As a third year Bachelor of Agriculture student figuring where my passion in agriculture lies, this conference was the perfect event. The three days gave us the opportunity to network with other scholars as well as professionals in various industries covering the health, nutrition and agricultural disciplines. Hearing about all the work that is being done in developing countries to improve their agricultural production systems was utterly inspiring and brought to light issues as well as possible solutions to the world’s growing population which is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. With over 815 million undernourished and over 2 billion obese people currently over the world, we need to find a way to balance nutrition and food with an increase in food quality rather than quantity.

The speakers were truly inspiring, coming from all over the world and from various backgrounds, they shared their wealth of knowledge and findings with us. Dr Alessandro Demaio and Dr Jessica Fanzo talked about the scale and devastation of the undernourished populations over the world and on the opposite end of the scale, also touched on the worrying number of over nourished people in today’s world mainly due to the increased choice of food people have. In particular I found Joanna Kane-Potaka interesting as she discussed her work with Smart Food and their emphasis on ‘Good for you, good for the planet, good for the farmer’. Smart Food has chosen millets and legumes that are highly nutritious, rich in nutrients such as iron, calcium and zinc as well as high in fibre and protein with the benefits of reducing the risks of diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Smart Food is trying to encourage the growth of these crops in underdeveloped countries where their diets are consistently lacking essential macro and micronutrients. The foods are also suited to harsh environments and are very resilient in times of drought. It became apparent how much of an influence western society has on developing nations, as the foods we choose to eat become popular in poorer nations where they may not necessarily be suited to their diets and food availability. Hearing from these speakers opened my eyes to the work that is being done overseas in developing nations to ensure people are getting the nutrients they need in a sustainable way that suits their lifestyle and climate.

With the knowledge I’ve gained from this experience, after I graduate from my degree I hope to volunteer for 12 months with Australian Volunteers for International development in a program surrounding plant and soil science, then hope to do my Masters in Agriculture to further deepen my knowledge of global agriculture. I encourage everyone interested in international agricultural development to get involved in RAID and the Crawford Fund and take every opportunity to get out and network as this is how you will connect with like-minded people and discover what truly inspires you to help people and improve global agriculture.