A robust, sustainable global agriculture and food production sector is critical to the future of a growing world population. It will take farms of varying types and sizes to address food insecurity and hunger, and to stabilize local communities and big cities alike. With a history that dates back to 1947, Nuffield International Farming Scholars is a global scheme that is focused on growing the most critical resources the agriculture industry has: people.
We at Nuffield International Farming Scholars are pleased to have recently entered into partnership with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR). Like the Partners in GFAR, we strive to inspire people to make a difference in the world of agriculture, and this can only happen when people, especially youth, are empowered to turn their knowledge into opportunity and enterprise.
Through the Nuffield experience, individual farmers, ranchers, fishers, and agri-professionals expand their own capacity and develop the confidence, ability, and network to drive innovation in their own agribusinesses, in their community, and across the larger agriculture industry. The belief that individual capacities must be strengthened through open exchange of experience and knowledge is also a focus area of GFAR with which Nuffield strongly aligns. In fact, the Nuffield experience is a transformational learning experience that develops not only the scholars’ technical skills, but also the life skills required to become rounded individuals and take leadership roles in agriculture.
The Ripple Effect of the Nuffield Experience
Every year, a group of Nuffield Scholars travels the world to find best practices in agriculture. Each scholar commits to delve deep into a specific topic in agriculture and develop a report of their findings. These reports are published publicly, and give the larger agriculture industry access to peer-created knowledge that can influence agricultural production, policy, marketing, engagement, entrepreneurship, and outreach.
As part of this unscripted and applied experience, Nuffield Scholars participate in several transformative travel programs during their scholarship. Large group, intensive small group, and individual travels all take the Scholar out of their comfort zone and expose them to new practices, cultures, people, and ideas. The goal is to seek out best practices around the world, carry those ideas and contacts back home, and then share the findings with the local geographic community and the larger global agricultural community.
The growth of each Nuffield Scholar is not limited to just the individual participant. Through their travels, the reports, and the program’s more than 1700 alums, there is a larger ripple effect whereby the Nuffield Scholars contribute a public value – at home and abroad. Nuffield Scholars are production leaders, and sought-after voices of the larger industry and trends that will shape agriculture in the future. At the same time, they are helping shape and support their local communities and countries.
Following their travels and the completion of their reports, Nuffield Scholars are looked to as industry leaders – from neighbors watching over the fences to see what changes are taking place, to being asked to serve in formal positions of influence. This experience aligns with the GFAR focus of empowering farmers to be at the center of innovation.
Nuffield Scholars are also often asked to engage in other countries, strengthening the global ties and expansion of knowledge the Nuffield program is known for.
When discussing the outcomes of their travels and reports, Nuffield Scholars express that it isn’t just about a new way to run their farms or enterprises. It’s about having a network of experts globally to help give them advice and guidance – personally and professionally – to help them grow. And it is about creating new knowledge through their study reports to support agriculture and communities around the world, allowing them to demonstrate impact at home and abroad.
Meet the Scholars
The best way to understand the impact of a Nuffield scholarship is to learn about some of the Nuffield Scholars themselves.
Thato Moagi is the first Nuffield Scholar from South Africa. Thato is from the Limpopo Province, and runs LeGae La Banareng Farms. In addition to exploring best practices with an eye on growing production at LeGae La Banareng Farms, Thato can use her new knowledge to help the farm meet its mission of serving as a “catalyst of meaningful transformation and sustainable development within the agricultural sector in South Africa.”
LeGae La Banareng Farms is using agriculture to produce much more than food. The operation and its leadership are also looking to increase the number of successful and sustainable black-owned agribusiness operations; promote and facilitate the entry of young agripreneurs into the commercial farming sector; and facilitate modern agricultural skills and technology transfer.
As part of her exploration as a Nuffield Scholar, Thato was asked to participate in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on World Food Security, speaking in both plenary sessions and side events. Thato has become a voice of agripreneurship, youth engagement, community development, and agricultural policy at the global level, sharing the insight she has gained from around the world. Closer to home, Thato was appointed to the newly formed Presidential advisory panel on land reform in South Africa. Check out Thato’s Tedx talk about getting youth back into farming.
Luciano Loman is a 2016 Nuffield Scholar from Brazil. The founder and partner at Metos Brasil, his work focuses on providing creative solutions to assist farmers with increasing productivity, reducing costs, saving water, and managing resources. Specifically, he designs and markets weather stations which help farmers predict climatic patterns and changes. In his work, Luciano helps turn information into profit for producers.
As part of his Nuffield scholarship, Luciano had the opportunity to select a topic to explore in his individual study report. He initially thought he would look into irrigation management and drought-fighting techniques. But as Luciano started to travel and look into ways to manage water, his research evolved and took on a different focus. Ultimately, he wrote a report titled “Vertical Farming: Can it Change the Global Food Production Landscape?” which is now being used as a resource for others around the world looking at alternative production methods and the larger food production system.
Jude McCann is a 2017 Nuffield Scholar from Northern Ireland (UK). In his professional life, Jude is the Chief Executive of Rural Support, a Northern Ireland regional organization that provides outreach support services to farmers and rural community members. Suicides have been rising in Northern Ireland, particularly among farmers and rural citizens, with young men identified as being particularly vulnerable.
Through his Nuffield scholarship, Jude was able to travel the world to learn more about the financial, personal, and climatic challenges that may contribute to a person’s stress levels, and how to try to address these stressors before they escalate into crises. The direct outcome of his Nuffield experience is the report he developed entitled “Securing Farmers’ Resilience in a Changing World.” At a larger level, his Nuffield engagement led to new programming at Rural Support, and substantial growth of his organization’s reach – more than 250 farmers and family members participating in one-on-one mentoring to address financial challenges on the farm.
These are just three examples of Nuffield Scholars engaging in topics that are not only important to them, but also critical to the future of the agriculture industry:
- Engaging youth and developing innovative ways to grow production agriculture.
- Turning data into profit for farmers around the world and exploring alternative production options to feed a growing world.
- Supporting those who are in agriculture and our rural communities to help them find ways to also care for their own mental health and resilience.
Nuffield Scholars are those in the world who are curious, passionate about agriculture, and looking to not only adopt new knowledge, but also share it with others.
For more information, you can visit www.nuffieldinternational.org.
Stay tuned in early 2019 for a GFAR webinar with Nuffield Scholars present and past, and a Partner Spotlight on Nuffield during their annual Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC).
Photo credits: Nuffield International