Prof Wendy Umberger, Jack Hetherington, Stuart Higgins (Agimpact) and Rohan Yargop with Indonesian delegates

Prof Wendy Umberger, Jack Hetherington, Stuart Higgins (AgImpact) and Rohan Yargop with Indonesian delegates

Last week, Prof Wendy Umberger, Rohan Yargop and Jack Hetherington, from The Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) attended the 2017 Crawford Fund Conference in Canberra. Read on for Rohan’s account of the conference.

By 2025, the world will produce 180 Zettabytes (that is 180 plus 21 zeros) of data. That is enough data that if it were to be copied on CDs the pile would be as high as the Eiffel Tower. This is an overwhelming statistic, however it is not hard to fathom. In today’s day and age as the world gets digital day by day the production of digital data is bound to increase rapidly.

In Agriculture, however, the uptake of digital technology is not progressing as rapidly as it is in other sectors. From identifying and adopting best practices on farm to discovering and realising best prices of produce, a farmer has to have access to a wealth of information and with insufficiently integrated markets, it is a challenge to enable access to such information. Numerous governments and institutions in developing countries across the globe are turning to digital data collection and dissemination techniques to combat this problem.

Rohan Yargop and Prof Wendy UmbergerThe theme of this year’s Crawford Fund Conference was ‘Digital Revolution in Agriculture’. Held annually at Parliament House in Canberra, the Crawford Fund Conference is a highlight event in Australia for researchers working in agriculture and food industry. Dr. Linidiwe Majele Sibanda, Vice President for Country Support, Policy and Delivery of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, presented the John Crawford Memorial Address where she recalled heart-warming experiences from her childhood time spent with her grandmother and reinforced her beliefs in traditional farming systems and her confidence in the power of digital data and the change it can bring about in smallholder livelihoods. She encouraged the youth to get actively involved in agricultural research.

Andre Laperriere, Executive Director of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) presented the morning keynote on the role big data can play in transforming smallholder livelihoods. He stressed making data accessible and easy to understand, and working with smallholders to enable efficient use of the data.

Steve Matthews from Gro-Intelligence and Martin Herrero from CSIRO spoke about user challenges of data. Absence of a common language that the sector uses to record information was one of the key challenges identified by Steve Matthwes; while Martin Herrero highlighted the need to focus on transdisciplinary data so that it can be compared across diverse agricultural systems.

Dr. David Bergvinson, DG, International Crop Research Institute for Semi–Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) spoke on taking advantage of the ICT revolution in developing countries to enhance market integration and extension activities. Stuart Higgins from AgImpact narrated his experience of developing a study for ACIAR to identify suitable mobile applications to collect data under the Mobile Acquired Data (MAD) pilot. Stuart spoke about the application Commcare that is being used by many institutions including us here at GFAR to collect household level data. Andrew Mude from International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) spoke about a program ILRI is running by providing index based insurance to farmers.

Dr. Pham Thi Sen of Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI) spoke on the use of QR codes to improve traceability systems in the horticulture value chain in Vietnam. Prof. Salah Sukkarieh from University of Sydney showcased some of the robotic tractors being developed as an example of the role of robotics in agriculture. The development of such technologies at affordable prices is certain to improve the lives of small farmers.

Andy Jarvis from CIAT

Andy Jarvis from CIAT

Andy Jarvis from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) closed the conference with his afternoon keynote where he highlighted the need to develop tools so that personalised information can be disseminated to farmers depending on their needs.

Throughout the conference there were numerous discussions on issues related to digital data like data ownership, safety and security. The presenters and experts maintained that it is essential to educate not only the farmers about technology but also to people who occupy high level positions in the government institutions that decide on policy development and implementation.

One of the key messages of the conference was as research in agriculture progresses with the help of technology, at the same time researchers must remember and respect traditional beliefs in farming systems and approach farmers not as researchers but as students of agriculture.

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Read on for an account of Day 4 of the short course on Food Standards and Regulations Familiarisation, led by The Centre for Global Food and Resources.

The IA-CEPA delegates braved a cold winter morning to visit local businesses in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.

D4-RGFM1The morning kicked off with a visit to the processing facility of Richard Gunner’s Fine Meats, who have been a strong industry partner in this program.

Richard Gunner, owner and founder of the company along with his wife Elizabeth Gunner greeted the delegates at their facility and guided them through each department of the operation.

The delegates got the opportunity to witness first-hand all aspects of a state-of-the-art meat processing facility and learn about the quality assurance processed and regulations that the organisation has to follow.

Afterwards, the delegation visited the famed Jurlique biodynamic and organic farm in the Adelaide Hills.

D4-jurliqueJurlique is a global leader in biodynamic and organically produced cosmetic products and is proud to call the Adelaide Hills its home. The farm was set up 32 years ago after a global search for the purest air on earth by the founders led them to the Adelaide Hills.

The delegates were very impressed by the biodynamic and organic principles followed by the farm and were amazed at the natural beauty of the farm. A few resident kangaroos on the farm got everyone excited, and this turned out to be a great opportunity to take some selfies!

D4-barry beachBarry Beach from Beach Organics visited the delegation later in the day and spoke about his experience with importing various products from Indonesia that he uses as raw materials to further process and sell in the Australian market.

Barry outlined the various standards and regulations he has to adhere to in order to develop his market and be able to sell his organic products.

The delegates engaged in one-on-one discussion with Barry after his presentation.

The day ended with a networking event organised by Centre for Global Food and Resources and Institute of International Trade where the delegates got the opportunity to interact with industry leaders and key government stakeholders from South Australia.

D4-networking dinnerBANNER

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The daily coverage of the short course on Food Standards and Regulations Familiarisation, led by The Centre for Global Food and Resources, continues below.


South Australia is renowned internationally for its premium food and wine products produced in a clean and green environment. Today, the IA-CEPA delegates had the opportunity to listen to some of the key stakeholders from the South Australian government that are involved in policy development and implementation at the state level.


Prof Pauline Mooney

The third day of the program opened with Prof. Pauline Mooney introducing the Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) and the work they do in supporting the South Australian food and agriculture sector. Pauline explained in detail about the various aspects of the industry and outlined the achievements of the agriculture and food sector in the last decade. She presented an overview of the various sub-sectors of the industry.


Heidi Alleway

Heidi Alleway spoke about her role as the General Manager of the Aquaculture and Fisheries sector in PIRSA on the importance of the seafood industry to the economy of the state. She also gave a detailed explanation of the various legislations that regulate the seafood industry in South Australia to ensure that a premium quality product is produced that is of a globally recognised standard which can fetch a high value for the producer.


Dr. Margaret Sexton

Dr. Margaret Sexton presented an overview of the food safety procedures that the businesses have to undertake in order to successfully operate in South Australia. The IA CEPA delegates engaged in significant discussions with the officials from PIRSA while drawing lessons from the South Australian examples and thinking about potential implications the learning can have on policy development in Indonesia.

Around lunchtime, the delegates visited the Frewville Foodland supermarket, which has been voted the world’s best supermarket for the last two years in a row.

The delegates made the most of the opportunity to explore the aisles to identify various international and Indonesian products that are available in-store. This also resulted in some useful discussion and thinking about future strategies that some of the business owners in the delegation might want to implement in order to establish sales in Australia.

Catherine Sayer, CEO of Food South Australia

Catherine Sayer, CEO of Food South Australia

The day was wrapped up with a talk by Catherine Sayer, CEO of Food South Australia, a membership based industry support organisation. Catherine gave an overview of the work Food SA does with local businesses that wish to export their products.

Catherine spoke about her experience of setting up and representing South Australian agrifood industry at various international food shows and the various aspects of showcasing South Australian products in international markets. The delegates engaged with Catherine on a one-on-one basis after the talk to gain more insights from her.

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Dr Adam Loch, Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow at The Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR), shares his recent Indonesian experience.   Last week I travelled to the very tip of Indonesia with Dr Barry Elsey from Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) to visit two Universities in Aceh Province; Universitas Teuku Umar (UTU) […]

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Read on for an update on the proceedings from Day 2 of the short course on Food Standards and Regulations Familiarisation, led by The Centre for Global Food and Resources. The second day for the IA-CEPA delegates at the University of Adelaide began with Elizabeth Gunner from Richard Gunner’s Fine Meats talking about her experience […]

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The Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) is playing a key role in building enhanced collaboration between Australian and Indonesian Government agencies and private sector by leading a two week short course on Food Standards and Regulations Familiarisation as part of the IA-CEPA (Indonesia – Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) negotiation early outcome. A high […]

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Yesterday was a good day. Yes, I work in academia but as much as possible I make sure the work I do has some relevance to reality. I was recently part of the review of the Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) eradication campaign, chaired by Bill Magee at the CRC for Plant Biosecurity. (Report here). […]

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Dr. David Adamson, ARC DECRA fellow at The Centre for Global Food and Resources, shares his thoughts on the Basin Plan, its implementation, its enforcement and cotton. Well the 4 Corners report has gotten things interesting around the office. I’m going to start with the easiest thing first, cotton. Australian agriculture is not restricted by land, […]

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The Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) conference is coming to Adelaide. Put it in your diary for 6-9 February 2018. The 2018 theme is: Abundance in an Era of Scarcity? Challenges and Opportunities for Australasian Agriculture, Environment, Food, Resources and Agribusiness. Each year the conference aims to highlight the latest economic research and policy innovations in […]

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In July and August 2017, we will have five new additions to The Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR). This will be a mix of staff and students, who introduce themselves below. “My name is Jack Hetherington and I am coming to the Centre for Global Food and Resources after working at the Australian Centre […]

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