Connections made at the Crawford Fund Conference

Maddison Clonan, Research Horticulturalist

Global agriculture insights from the Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference, Canberra

I attended the Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference in Canberra on Tuesday 14 August 2018. This year’s conference titled ‘Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition: The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus’ aimed to shift the focus of agricultural development from increasing yields to increasing food quality and nutritional value.

I was one of the Northern Territory Crawford Fund travel awardees in 2017 and with this support, I worked in Cambodia to develop mango post-harvest and export systems. The department has been involved in this work through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project ‘Building a resilient mango industry in Cambodia and Australia through improved production and supply chain practices’ since 2013. The Crawford Fund works with ACIAR to support researchers in development roles overseas.

Attendees at the Crawford Fund Annual Conference (Crawford Fund)

Attendees at the Crawford Fund Annual Conference (Crawford Fund)

This year’s conference program included presentations from nutrition and agricultural researchers from organisations such as CSIRO, WorldFish, World Vegetable Center, ACIAR and UN FAO. The importance of diversifying production systems to include more nutritious food, associated challenges and case studies from Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Africa were presented. Professor Andrew Campbell, CEO ACIAR, presented a case from the Philippines where conversions from cassava production to perennial mixed vegetables increased the diversity of food options and improved land management practices. Dr Alessandro Demaio, CEO EAT Foundation introduced the integration of Sustainable Development Goals into food systems research, and Dr Jessica Fanzo, co-chair of the UN FAO Global Nutrition Report, provided the most recent statistics of global undernourishment and its wide-reaching effects. Australian Federal Foreign Minister Julie Bishop concluded the conference proceedings by emphasising the value of agricultural aid investment to Australia, ‘for every $1 Australia spends in aid, we receive $7 back’.

During my stay, I was generously hosted by the networking organisation, Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID), for who I am the Northern Territory representative and where I learnt from the experiences of other state/territory representatives. I also attended a networking event hosted by RAID, where I was able to connect with researchers from all over Australia who work in the development space.

Last updated: 07 August 2019