The next-gen in development ag: meet some 2018 Crawford Fund Scholars

Guy and Christine, from the AgriEducate team, had the fantastic opportunity to attend and report on the Crawford Fund Conference, delving into all aspects of nutrition, health, food security and the nexus with agriculture. Part of the Crawford Fund Conference program involves 44 scholars from around the country, some of the brightest minds in the development ag space. Here’s just a brief look into why they chose agriculture, development agriculture and how they are applying their knowledge to benefit food production globally!

First up we have Cooper!

Academic Discipline: Environmental Science – beekeeping for community development in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands

Cooper.pngSo, how did the passion for agriculture begin? Where you born into it, or was it something you discovered over time?

It came through an understanding that the best way to help those in developing nations is through agriculture. I was always interested in the environment, beekeeping and traveling and working in international agricultural research allowed for a fulfilling way to contribute and give back to local communities.

In what ways can you apply your academic background to the agricultural sector, and development agriculture globally?

My studies at Southern Cross University have given me a broad range of practical and professional skills – the ability to conduct research and coordinate projects, working independently and with people in teams under pressure. It has helped me to express and present my concerns, ideas and research passions more clearly, thoughtfully, and critically.

From your experiences, what is either your ‘best story’ or ‘favourite fact’ about agricultural development and global food security?

That poverty is not a fate, it’s not someone’s misfortune, it’s not an accident. It’s a condition. Overcoming poverty is not gesture of charity, it’s the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to a healthy happy life and dignity.

If you could change or improve one thing about agriculture or even just one thing in the world what would it be? Try and be specific!

An increased understanding on the significant role our pollinators play in food security presently and into the future! No trees, no bees, no honey, no money!

And lastly, what’s something completely non-ag related that you love?

Surfing, diving, camping and painting!

Thanks Cooper! Best of luck with the rest of your PhD.


Our next scholar interviewed found agriculture as a way of satisfying a need to help people, environment and communities around the world! Here’s Rebekah Ash’s take on our questions:

Academic Discipline: Agricultural Science

To start off, how did the passion for agriculture begin? Where you born into it, or was it something you discovered over time? 

My passion for agriculture has been a developing process for many years, however, it was not until the beginning of last year that I was able to pinpoint agriculture as the area that would allow me to act on my values and endeavours. Growing up in the Brisbane metropolitan area, it is fair to say that I was never directly exposed to agriculture and quite frankly, I too had a warped idea of agriculture alongside many city dwellers today. Throughout my adolescent years I thrived off leadership, travel, the environment and foreign aid. I would spend every spare second involving myself in a variety of community groups that would pitch ideas to improve sustainability in our local community, lend a helping hand, fundraise for a number of causes or simply get outdoors and appreciate the world around us. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to find a career path that satisfied all of these areas… I had thought about medicine and doctors without borders but still, this did not provide me a chance to act on my passion for our environment. So how did I stumble upon agriculture and discover its importance to our environment rather than its harm? Funnily enough my father is in the agricultural science sector and so I began to look into the course outline for agricultural science at UQ and needless to say I was blown away… all these years I’d thought that the agricultural field was a basic industry ignorant to the needs of a sustainable future but this was telling me that the change and work needed for our future starts and rises at agriculture. As I began to research more into the agricultural science everything began to fall into place. How can we feed our growing population? Agriculture. How can we reduce poverty and malnutrition? Agriculture. How can we reduce human impacts on our environment? It starts at agriculture. All of a sudden agriculture opened up as a field in my eyes that allows for leadership in international development discussing some of the most pivotal challenges to overcome in our society in terms of food security and sustainability. From that point on, I haven’t looked back and my passion continues to grow every day. I’m at the very beginning of my career in agricultural science and thoroughly look forward for the many years to come in this field.

In what ways can you apply your academic background to the agricultural sector, and development agriculture globally? 

I am at the very beginning of my career and therefore I still have so much to learn. At this stage, my academic background allows me to understand the shear significance and importance around agriculture and our future. I am beginning to learn how we can tackle big issues such as closing the yield gap via new technologies and a coexistence of livestock systems that reduces poverty and provides financial security while minimising the footprint of these systems. Finally, my academic background allows me to pitch the endeavours of agricultural science with an educated view to help change the warped view many have in an urbanised world.

From your experiences, what is either your ‘best story’ or ‘favourite fact’ about agricultural development and global food security? 

Approximately 78% of the rural poor (approx. 800 million people) depend on agriculture to make a living. They provide food for our growing population but barely have enough to feed themselves. Agriculture is one of the most powerful tools for raising poor peoples’ incomes hence, it is a major area for development.

If you could change or improve one thing about agriculture or even just one thing in the world what would it be? Try and be specific!

Definitely the perception of agriculture by the urbanised world. As agricultural scientists we understand the importance and significance of agriculture for our future, however, without the wider community’s support, we cannot act to the greatest of our potential.

What’s something completely non-ag related that you love?

Spontaneous travel! I absolutely love jumping into a new culture and surroundings. My favourite way to explore is hiking and being involved with the local community. Learning about another culture allows you to understand how others find happiness in their life creating more doors for growth, appreciation and happiness in your own life.

Thanks Rebekah!


We’ll be updating these with more interviews over the coming weeks, so check our feeds and check back here regularly!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.