We are all searching for meaning – to live a life that matters to us and the world around us
Twenty years ago when I was struggling to figure out what that meant for me and I discovered that I was never ever going to be any good at milking cows I went on a journey to find out how I could be use my skills to do some good.
When we started to identify and train young people in the agriculture sector to be the face of our programs and role models of who you can be in agriculture we soon realised we needed to go beyond training them to be confident communicators and trusted voices and support them with all the other things that help develop “human capital”
We began to look at moving beyond skills development, training and education to include more abstract aspects such as self-esteem, empowerment, creativity, increased awareness and mindsets.
When the industry you work in doesn’t have a leadership capacity building framework all we could do was experiment and see what worked and what didn’t.
We also discovered whilst our programs fell into the workforce “Attract-Train-Retain” space, agriculture doesn’t have a workforce strategy either .
Our work has been one big experiment and lots of little ones. We are entering exciting times with increasing interest and invitations to write the story of our journey and publish the learnings from 10 years of collecting unique data sets
We now have a big picture goal to understand how to best support the Australian agriculture sector to develop human capital through a variety of initiatives.
Our farmers increasingly face disruptive changes, including a rise in digital technologies, rigorous food safety requirements, shifting diets, climate change and global pandemics.
Keeping pace with this rapidly changing environment requires farmers to have a stronger capacity to analyse, innovate and respond, while managing their own farm businesses. If we want to transform our agri-food systems to be more productive, sustainable, inclusive and equitable, we need to invest in the people behind them.
Investing in farmers can contribute to autonomy, empowerment and economic development, and is key to successful agriculture and rural development policies.
Yet very little attention has been paid to investing in agriculture human capital over the last decade or so.
In fact less than 3 percent of global agriculture development finance between 2015 and 2018 was invested specifically in strengthening the skills and capacities of agricultural producers.
We look forward to showing how greater investment in innovative and cost-effective programs will result in new technical and business capacities and skills and empowered farmers. This in turn will lead to increased incomes, yields and the inclusion of the previously marginalised groups of indigenous farmers, women and youth .
If this is a space that excites you too – we are always looking for collaborators