Each year the Crawford Fund hosts a conference on food security, at Parliament House in Canberra, which holds the key place in Australias development and food security calendar.
For the last two years (2014 and 2015), Gardiner Dairy Foundation has supported three scholars to attend this highly regarded meeting which has proved to be a highly beneficial experience for all.
Ms Zita Ritchie attended the 2014 conference titled Ethics, Efficiency and Food Security: Feeding the 9 Billion, Well. Ms Ritchie is a dairy extension officer with the Victorian Government, has a Masters of International Development and a years experience as an agricultural volunteer in Kenya.
She is passionate about the role of smallholder farmers and the conference exposed her to world leading researchers, networks and opportunities. Being a scholar of the Crawford/Gardiner program also gave her the opportunity to deliver extension training to dairy advisors and smallholder farmers in the Indonesian province of West Java in April 2015.
Gardiner supported two scholars, Dr Mary Abdelsayed and Mr Martin Foerster to attend the 2015 parliamentary conference, The Business of Food Security: Profitability, Sustainability and Risk.
Dr Abdelsayed is a project manager and researcher with Holstein Australia working on a Gardiner funded project, Health Data for Healthy Cows. She has a PhD in the genetics of lactation in Australian dairy cattle which examined breeding tools to help farmers improve fertility problems seen in dairy cows. The conference opened her eyes to the new prospects of international agricultural research and the potential benefits to the farming industry here in Australia and in developing countries.
Mr Foerster is a PhD student at Monash University working to improve the profitability and sustainability of milk powder production. He studied chemical engineering in Europe and obtained industry experience in China before moving to Australia.
As an engineer he entered unchartered waters at the conference but found it truly inspiring as he had never before taken part in as many diverse conversations as he did during the three day gathering. Capturing the bigger picture of the global food crisis encouraged him to realign the focus of his research giving his future studies more direction and purpose.