Australian Farmers can supply us (and the world) with so much more than food and fibre

With 21st Century thinking and smart government policy there are many new and exciting opportunities for Australian farmers to thrive in a world of big data, a community screaming out for clean energy options and developing countries with a burning thirst to soak up our knowledge as well as our produce.

A number of our Young Farming Champions work with, share their knowledge and learn from farmers in developing countries. A number of them have taken advantage of the Crawford Fund scholarship support to engage in international research, development and education for the benefit of developing countries and Australia.

Young Farming Champion Sam Coggins has just landed a job with ACIAR and this article by Professor Andrew Campbell CEO of ACIAR is a great opportunity to share the work they do and the exciting opportunities for Sam in his chosen career in the Australian agriculture sector .

Sam_Coggins__5-1404.jpg

Sam Coggins taking his knowledge and passion for the Australian agriculture sector to the world 

Agricultural aid is in Australian farmers’ interests

Andrew Campbell, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research considers the pragmatic reasons why well-targeted aid, especially in agriculture, is in the long-term best interests of Australian farmers and rural communities.

Why should Australian farmers support overseas aid?

Especially agricultural aid – doesn’t that just give a leg-up to our competitors?

Well, no.

Leaving aside moral arguments that overseas development aid is ‘the right thing to do’ for wealthy nations like Australia, there are also pragmatic reasons why well-targeted aid, especially in agriculture, is in the long-term best interests of Australian farmers and rural communities.

Specific examples of benefits from aid flowing back to Australia described below all stem from the direct experience of ACIAR – the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

ACIAR was established by the Fraser government in 1982, out of a recognition that Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry science has much to offer developing countries in our region as they seek to feed their people and develop their economies.

ACIAR is an independent statutory authority in the foreign affairs portfolio, reporting directly to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.  I am just the sixth CEO of ACIAR in 36 years.  We have enjoyed remarkable stability over that time, enabling us to build very solid long-term partnerships from east Africa to the Pacific, developing many projects that have delivered benefits back to Australian rural industries and communities.

Last week, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop launched our new 10-year strategy.

In many ways ACIAR is similar to Rural R&D Corporations, in that we organise and fund research, but our focus is overseas, taking Australian science to developing countries in the Indo-Pacific region, and we work across livestock, crops, horticulture, fisheries, forestry, land, water and climate.

Australian farmers and rural communities benefit from the work of ACIAR in several ways:

  • At the most basic level, as an exporting country, we do better when the countries in our region can afford to buy our products.  As economies develop and people get richer, they consume more meat, dairy, fruit, processed cereals, sugar, wine and wool, and they demand higher quality food.
  • Australian scientists working on pests and diseases in developing countries can help to manage risks and limit the spread of major problems before they reach Australia.  In doing so, they also get opportunities to work on problems that thankfully don’t (yet) exist in Australia, enabling them to build skills in detection, diagnosis and control of exotic diseases.  This has proven of crucial value for Australia, for example with Panama Disease in bananas, and Newcastle Disease in poultry.
  • ACIAR investment in collaborative breeding programs gives Australian industries access to new varieties.  For example, seven new citrus rootstocks were recently released into the Australian market, developed from disease-resistant and salt-tolerant Chinese cultivars through a collaboration with NSW DPI funded by ACIAR.  Germplasm used by Australian wheat breeders to release high performance varieties to Australian growers draws heavily on material from CIMMYT – the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Mexico – funded by ACIAR and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
  • ACIAR-funded fruit fly research directly helped mango farms in North Queensland, when exports to Japan were withdrawn in 1995 due to fruit fly incursions. The Queensland DPI was able to develop postharvest treatment protocols for Australian mangoes much faster because of their work for ACIAR in Malaysia, resulting in approval to restart exports at least six months sooner than would have been possible otherwise.
  • ACIAR often supports Australian researchers to work with partners in neighbouring countries to tackle a shared challenge.  The strength of our innovation system leads to new technologies being trialled and adopted first here. Research on growing tropical tree crops, such as mango, jackfruit and cocoa, on trellises for greater productivity and cyclone resistance, led by Queensland DAF with support from Horticulture Innovation Australia and ACIAR, is now offering trellising as a potentially transformative technology to Queensland growers. Research to tackle productivity problems associated with plant viruses in sweetpotato crops in PNG, has led to virus therapy techniques and virus-free planting material being adopted as the foundation for a more productive sweetpotato industry in Australia.  Techniques developed by Prof Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University to restore degraded fringing coral reefs in the Philippines (by stocking hatchery-reared coral larvae at the time of larval settlement into enclosures over the reef) are now being trialled on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • ACIAR is an important source of applied research funding for regional universities and state departments of primary industries, with major flow-on benefits for regional centres like Wagga, Armidale, Orange, Lismore, Toowoomba, Gatton, Roseworthy, Mildura, Yanco, Townsville, Hobart, Darwin and Maroochydore.

While I have great admiration for agricultural economists, benefit:cost ratios tell only a fraction of the story of why investing in agricultural aid in our region makes good business sense for Australia.

 Andrew Campbell, CEO, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

All over the world, evidence over the decades since World War 1 has shown that investment in agricultural research delivers great returns, within and between nations.  ACIAR has a fine tradition of measuring and tracking the impact of our investments.  Some projects deliver exceptional benefit to cost ratios.  For example, clonal improvement of eucalypt and acacia plantation genotypes in Vietnam delivered returns of around 80:1, and vaccination of village chickens in east Africa delivered returns of around 60:1.

Perceptions that our aid helps competitors to out-compete our own exporters don’t hold up under closer examination.  Smallholder producers in developing countries rarely compete in the same high-value markets as Australian exporters.  The gap in most instances remains very large, and reducing it somewhat usually creates opportunities for Australian industries.

For example, Indonesia wants to become self-sufficient in beef, and ACIAR is funding the University of New England, CSIRO and the University of Queensland to help lift beef productivity and production in eastern Indonesia in particular.  But beef self-sufficiency for Indonesia remains a very long way down the track.  In the meantime, they will need many breeding cattle from Australia and multiple linkages with the northern beef industry in particular.  Building these links will help Australian exporters and producers.

Mangos are another example.  Market studies around the Asia-Pacific, led by Griffith University in collaboration with the Australian Mango Industry Association, with input from state and territory DPIs and support from ACIAR, have shown how mango markets are differentiated by seasonal time slots and price points, local market preferences and varietal characteristics.  Innovations in pest and disease management, flower induction and post-harvest handling can bring benefits to the mango industry in Australia and in partner countries.

Overall, over the last 36 years, using very conservative assumptions and only counting the benefits that can be quantified and costed, the ACIAR portfolio has delivered benefits at least five times greater than our total expenditure.  Many benefits from more recent projects are yet to be fully realised.

While I have great admiration for agricultural economists, benefit:cost ratios tell only a fraction of the story of why investing in agricultural aid in our region makes good business sense for Australia.

Being a trusted science partner across our region, helping neighbouring countries to tackle some of their most pressing problems using Australian know-how, is a very tangible, practical demonstration of our commitment to regional security, prosperity and sustainability.  In doing so, we learn a lot and we develop new capabilities that help our own industries, and in the long term we create more and better market opportunities for Australian farmers.

In short, the 2.5% of the Australian overseas aid budget managed by ACIAR delivers terrific value for Australian farmers, rural industries and rural communities.

Andrew Campbell is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

Australian agriculture is full to the brim with exciting young people

Never in my life have I been so proud to pass the ball, exchange the baton, give a voice to NextGen as I was when the Australian Farm Institute invited me to speak at their Roundtable in 2017 as the day I passed the baton to Young Farming Champion Dione Howard. Five minutes is a very short time to get your message across. Let alone do it with so much power.

It is such a ridiculous furphy that Australian agriculture is seen and promoted as a sunset industry full of old grey haired men. Dione is just one example of the 1000’s of exciting and dynamic young people in the agriculture sector. Time to celebrate Sunrise. This report is just a drop in the ocean of exciting young people who see agriculture as their future.

#strongertogether #youthvoices18   #youthinag

Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz

The Marriott Girls.jpg

The Marriotts – a family of legends – courage personified 

As Australians across the country rally to #standwithMaz by tuning into ABCLandline today to watch Catherine Marriott on the Pardoo Station segment  I am reflecting on the  positives of Catherine’s bravery in taking a stance against inappropriate behaviour towards women by people in powerful positions.  It has highlighted the courage of women in the agriculture sector and unified the sector with a collaborative call to action from both men and women, organisations, business and the community.

I remain stunned anyone would question the timing of the complaint. As I said in a previous post I have no idea what I would do. In the first instance I would want to be 100% confident of my family support, support of friends and knowing my networks have my back. Catherine Marriott has all of those in spades.

Then I would think about self care. Like many others, I too have been bullied on Twitter. I have seen how tough it can be at a political level. I remember vividly walking into a national meeting in Melbourne of a NSW industry  group I was representing. The first thing that happened was been taken into a corner by one of the other women in the room who said I hope you wore your armour, women on committees in our industry in Victoria are only seen to be here to serve the tea and scones. She was right it was very unpleasant. I didn’t last long.

Quoting National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson from this article Barnaby Joyce leak shocks rural women amid sexual harassment investigation it should be obvious to everyone why I believe people don’t just automatically walk into police stations

“I think some of it is not understanding what is acceptable and feeling maybe a little bit guilty about calling some of it out. But I also think there is a bit of fear around what the repercussions are going to be.”

“Am I going to be trolled if it’s on social media? Am I going to be outed in the workplace? Am I going to lose my job, am I going to be able to progress on the career path that I’m on?”

Catherine Marriott’s recent media statement reiterates this

“This complaint was made not only to address the incident against me — it was about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions,” she said.

“Suggestions to the contrary are hurtful, incorrect and the very reason why I hesitated to come forward at the time of the incident.

“Speculation on this issue by people who are unaware of the facts is impacting my right to a fair and due process. The additional stress of having to go through this publicly and with people’s judgement is the exact reason people don’t come forward.”

Self care has to be the number one priority.  Catherine’s bravery has provided an opportunity for our rural champions to come out in force saying to other courageous women we are here for you, we will support you and we will lobby to ensure that courageous women (and men) get the pastoral care they deserve as well as fair and due process  

Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongertogether #strongwomen

 

 

 

Leadership reflections. Be good to yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy.

International Womens Day (IDW) 2005 was a pivotal point in my life journey. When I got the call to tell me I was the inaugural Kiama IWD Electorate Women of the Year, I was thrilled, I was flabbergasted, and I had a huge dose of imposter syndrome. It was the imposter syndrome that weighed heavily so I set the bar high for myself and was determined to live up to award and so the journey began.

This is a post for everyone out there fighting the good fight, spending a lot of time questioning themselves, feeling a bit (very) jaded, and keen to get their mojo back.

I woke up yesterday morning to see this post from Airlie Trescowthick founder of Farm Table . Airlie  started her post Thank you for inspiring me: 14 rural women I want to celebrate this IWD. with this preface

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March 2018), I wanted to take the time out to thank some women who have made an impact on me during my Farm Table journey so far.

 Some know me, some do not, but they have all inspired me and given me the confidence to develop, grow and take risks running my own business.

These women are running businesses and building solutions to issues and challenges we share across rural and agricultural industries. Starting up a business can be lonely and scary, particularly when in a rural area. But, with a network of like-minded and supportive women across the country, you are never truly alone.

Thank you, from me, and from all that you inspire.

Of the 14 people Airlie profiled I only know two personally and I look forward to the day I meet the other twelve. Wow

When I read Airlie’s profile on me – it generated a lot of reflection

Farm Table 3.jpg

MMMh the ‘ultimate leader’. What is a leader. One thing I know for sure is what Airlie and her support team have created with Farm Table is nothing short of phenomenal and there is no way in the world I could have pulled it off. Super kudos to them

If leadership is creating a movement and being part of that movement. I can wear that hat. My style is not one that everyone is comfortable with and I have spent the last five years questioning it myself.

I’ve been called a leader for taking initiative, getting things done and standing my ground on big issues. My journey has taught me that results are not everything and leadership is not a solo activity.  It’s something that you do with people, not despite people. To be a successful leader we also need to work on how we engage to get those results. One of the things I’ve been working on is developing my style to build stronger relationships because relationships are everything. We always need to be thinking about how we can improve, how can we learn, and to take every leadership opportunity as a personal growth experience as well as a product delivery outcome.

Last year I signed up for several “leadership” courses. I engaged a leadership coach. I identified all the things I wanted to ‘improve’ about myself and poured my heart and soul into it. Let me tell you – you can have too much self-awareness. What my journey to be a  ‘better version of myself’  has reinforced is the importance of deep, genuine friendships, seeking help and surrounding yourself with people who bring joy into your life.

The most insightful advice I can give every-one out there (and we are all leaders) is be kind to yourself. As Steve Jobs so famously said “if you want to be liked, sell ice-cream”. People can pick and choose whether they want to be part of your movement or not.

And the tall poppy syndrome. Don’t beat yourself up. If some-one singles you out for an award or gives you an accolade, wear it with pride. Sure, there will be plenty of people they could have given it too, but they picked you. It’s what you do with the award, it’s how you leverage it on behalf of your cause that counts.

As Airlie identified there is no shortage of women in agriculture doing diverse and exciting things. There is no shortage of people in agriculture doing exciting things. There is no shortage of people in all our communities doing exciting things. If you want to start a movement or join a movement, find the one that brings joy into your life.

Thanks Airlie.  I look forward to following your journey.  I havent had the opportunity to work with you but my gut tells me you have an inclusive leadership style I have always aspired too

#IDW2018 #strongwomen #strongertogether

Speaking of Leadership Courses. The one that has left the most indelible impression on me is Leading Transformational Change. Its a live-in course at the Melbourne Business School. The course is transformational but its the people I met at the course who helped me put perspective to my life journey. They helped me celebrate the person I am. The good, the bits others think I should change and the bits I would like to change.  What others think no longer occupies large parts of my head space and the bits I would like to change help me appreciate others with those characteristics and aspire to surround myself with them.

Be good to  yourself. Life is short. Live it with joy

Catherine Marriott – a woman who stood up when she knew it would do the most good

I first met Catherine Marriott in early 2012. She reached out because she saw we shared a vision we both wanted to turn into a reality. We wanted to help empower rural and regional Australians in the agriculture sector to share their story and provide them with the tools and knowledge to do that.

I have never met anybody like her. She thinks deeply about every decision she makes. She surrounds herself with an ever-growing network of agriculture’s best and bright minds. First and foremost she cares deeply about people, she consults, she listens, and she always goes with the decisions she believes are best for women, agriculture and rural and regional Australia. And that means she does what’s best for everyone in this country

She joined me at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2012 where she helped me run two events that connect young people in rural Australia with young people in our cities

We shared a room – she declared she didn’t sleep a wink – I snore louder than her mother.

She is a professional photographer, she took our photographs. We couldn’t afford to pay her, yet she insisted on paying for half that room where didn’t sleep a wink.

Catherine Marriott.jpg

Catherine Marriott congratulates Jordan Kerr at the Cream of the Crop Awards in 2012. Note MC Stephanie Coombes

I can understand if it happened a while ago (which is what’s been reported) why Catherine made the decision now.  I can only envision how much heart and soul went into her decision to make an official complaint. She has phenomenal support from her amazing family . She would have thought about the impact on the Rural Women’s Award, the town of Broome, her workplace everyone and everything she has ever touched.

Let’s not forget the self-care. These things don’t go away. Catherine is a woman with an incredible legacy. She has achieved so much in such a short time and I am confident will achieve so much more. The last thing agriculture and anything she has made a reality needs, is for her be known first for being ‘that woman who finally made Barnaby realise it was time to do the right thing”

Men and women everywhere are standing side by side to support this brave, brave woman with the hashtags #standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongwomen

Join us and help people everywhere have the courage to stand up when it matters and when it will do the most good.

 

 

 

Barnaby Joyce has jumped off the cliff of no return

I have followed the whole Barnaby Joyce debacle shaking my head. Here is a man who claims to represent the best interest of farmers and agriculture. Yet so little of his ideas of the “best interest” for farmers matched mine. I will admit there were parts of Barnaby’s style I did admire.  But when it was revealed that the WA woman who filed a sexual harassment complaint against the former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for  inappropriate behaviour was Catherine Marriott  and he described her comments as “spurious and defamatory” I realised I couldn’t forgive him for anything .

Catherine Marriott (affectionately known as Maz)  is agriculture’s darling and she deserves to be. She is integrity personified.  I am 100% confident if Catherine made a complaint, that complaint is 100% valid.  Barnaby you will never convince agriculture that Catherine would make a “spurious and defamatory” allegation.

The court of public opinion is hammering Catherine for not taking her allegation to the police. Lets be real women all over the world. I for one would do something but the last place I would walk into is a police station. And seriously does it matter when it happened.  Who wants their legacy to be “that woman who accused Barnaby Joyce”.

Catherine is a giver. She cares deeply and she supports others who care deeply. This kind of generosity has a ripple effect for others. She inspires. She uplifts and she encourages others to do the same. They become catalysts for better leadership and contribution to the rural sector. All those who personally know Catherine, know how much courage it took to do this. Lets not judge Catherine. Lets talk about how women can stand up without the stigma and the public scrutiny that making a complaint to the police generates.

Some key points from ABC News article Barnaby Joyce sexual harassment accuser wanted Nationals leader held accountable

  • Former WA Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott said she never intended for the issue to become public
  • Ms Marriott said she asked National Party to undertake a “formal and confidential” investigation
  • Barnaby Joyce previously called her allegation “spurious and defamatory”

Catherine Marriott said she made the complaint because she wanted Mr Joyce to be accountable.

In a statement, Ms Marriott said she never intended for the issue to become public and had asked for the National Party to undertake a “formal and confidential” investigation into the incident.

“I requested that … to ensure there is accountability in relation to the incident I raise, and to prevent this type of inappropriate behaviour towards women in the future,” Ms Marriott said.

“This complaint was not made solely to address the incident against me — it is about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions.

“I will await the outcome of this investigation before determining any future action or commenting further.”

Ms Marriott is a former West Australian Rural Woman of the Year.

 

Catherine Marriott
I think Katherine Murphy from The Guardian sums it up nicely in her article  In this mess of his own creation, Barnaby Joyce’s self-pity was repulsive 
#standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongwomen

Turning the anti-bullying conversation around

bully-poster.jpg

You can find this poster here

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?

This above quote is an extract of a comment from reader Andrew on my post Is the Mean Mob Mentality Out Of Control.  See footnote

I am confident we will all agree that Andrew makes a very valid point

When you Google ‘Modelling Anti-Bullying Behaviour’ Google Scholar offers a plethora of articles 

Social science research tells us if we craft the message that signals preferred behaviour we get preferred behaviour.

Using an example I saw at boys school I visited in 2016. The sign in the foyer said “65% of men and boys interviewed think domestic violence occurs”

The social scientists tell us this sign models negative behaviour. The ideal sign would say “100% of men think domestic violence is wrong.”

Clearly the image at the top of the post is a great example of modelling preferred behaviour. See article here

Love other readers thoughts on how we rise to challenge that Andrew has posed

Footnote

Andrew’s comment on the original blog

Where I’m coming from is contrarian to many, so please read to the end.
This is not a criticism of what’s happening in general or the posts and comments here.

In grappling with the issue we are faced with in relation to personal attacks in social and mainstream media we need to call out bullying for what it is, and those carrying out that behaviour need to be held to account.

At this time I’m reminded of Sister Teresa of Calcutta.
She was asked to attend an “anti-war” rally, where the proponents would have obviously used her presence to leverage the PR.
Sister Teresa’s response was if you can explain to me what you are for, I’ll consider it.

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

Using Sister Teresa’s framework … if we are anti bullying, what are we for?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

We know what we don’t want but, have difficulty articulating what we do want.
When training dogs, we reward positive behaviour for the obvious reason, with young children we do the same when it comes to behaviours. Or we should.

So what behaviour do we wish to recognise as it applies to social and mainstream media behaviour?
It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?

Ripple.png