Our NextGen 2019 Student Awardee reflections – the COVID-19 edition

June 18, 2020

The Crawford Fund supports and encourages the next generation of Australians in study, careers and volunteering in international agricultural research, and one way we do this is through our highly sought after Student Awards which are funded by our State and Territory Committees.

In 2019, we announced 24 Australian tertiary students had won the privilege to gain international agricultural research experience and expertise as recipients of our Awards. Because of COVID-19, there have been delays for six of our awardees in completing their travel and study relating to their Student Award.

Eighteen of our awardees have wrapped up their project work which saw them immersed in research teams to learn firsthand the immense challenges and rewards living, working and learning within another culture. The countries they travelled to and experienced included Costa Rica, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Samoa and Timor-Leste.

As always, we would not be able to offer these fantastic opportunities to the next generation of students if we did not have the support of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the international centres and NGOs that allow the students to work within their projects each year as part of the Student Award program.

Some poignant quotes from one awardee supported by each of our committees are below, and here is the early edition set of reflections from them all for you to enjoy. We look forward to bringing you reports of our remaining six 2019 awardees after they are able to safely carry out their plans.

Anna Mackintosh (TAS) in Timor-Leste as part of her Student Award experience.


Nadeem Akmal, University of Canberra travelled to Nepal to research the contribution of ICT in climate smart agriculture with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development

“The majority of the farmers conclude that overall project interventions have increased their households’ income from 50 to 100 percent with the half of this directly attributable to the ICT Smart component of the project,” said Nadeem.


Charles Callaghan, William Davies and Rebecca Owen, Charles Sturt University travelled to Samoa to research various aspects of small holder sheep production as part of an ACIAR project with Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Animal Production and Health Division

“The students were thrust into a steep learning curve, having to learn quickly about their chosen topics, research principles and the Samoan culture and landscape,” said their supervisor Emma Hand.


Jane Ray, University of Queensland was supported by our NT committee to travel to Costa Rica to work on bacterial wilt diseases in banana as part of a Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland and University of Costa Rica project:

“Because of this opportunity, I have gained unique practical experience and learned from an experienced team of plant pathologists about the management of this disease. I have been able to adopt and apply the learnings to my current ongoing research project on the biology of blood disease in Indonesia,” said Jane.


Rebekah Ash, University of Queensland spent time in Lao PDR focusing on cassava disease screening in an ACIAR project, with The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture 

“My experience in Laos was a steep learning curve. From the agronomy and molecular genetics of cassava, to visiting facilities and people across the whole supply chain and understanding the difference in approaches to moving forward in a project between Australia and Laos, it was an invaluable learning experience,” said Bek.


Manithaythip Thephavanh, University of Adelaide also travelled to Lao PDR, studying youth agricultural entrepreneurship as part of an ACIAR project with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute

“Spending time with and interviewing 75 young farmers-entrepreneurs in the central and southern Laos has reshaped my view about young people and agriculture,” she said.


Oliver Gales, University of Tasmania worked within a Crawford Fund project in Timor-Leste on the development of commercial vegetable and fruit production with the Market Development Facility Timor Leste

“The success and positive tangible impacts that are currently being seen in Balibo are a credit to the ongoing support of the Crawford Fund. The community of Balibo is inspiring in its efforts to change the course of their recent history and offer a positive and empowered future for the next generation. I thank the community and region for accepting and inspiring me,” said Oliver.


Peter Richardson, University of Melbourne went to Myanmar, focusing his time on improving livestock production as part of an ACIAR project with the University of Veterinary Science, Myanmar

“I have taken away more than simply the physical experience of working in remote regions of a developing country but have been strongly influenced by the kindness and generosity of people who struggle daily to simply feed their family. It truly was an eye-opening experience,” said Peter.


Daniel Waterhouse, Murdoch University also went to Myanmar to research insects as a sustainable feed option for the aquaculture, pork and poultry sectors, with the NGO Spectrum – Sustainable Development Knowledge Network

“The aquaculture sector in Myanmar is an important source of employment, particularly in rural areas, and provides an opportunity for rural populations to increase their incomes (including women who are paid much higher wages to work in aquaculture than cropping) and improve the