The first leg for the Nuffield Farming trip to Japan was Singapore. The UK scholars touched down in Chiang airport and caught up with colleagues from Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Brazil and Australia.
Day one was an opportunity to build on work we had done at the conference in Brasilia on personality, stress and team work. My take home message from this was that having a strategy for managing life events is key to a quick recovery when things go wrong.
Day two focused on Singapore’s place in the ASEAN economy. The country is integral to providing a link between businesses in countries such as Australia who want to trade in the region. Their list of trade deals around the world is impressive and no doubt they will be looking to establish a deal with the UK in future. One of the international businesses based there is the credit risk insurer NCI trade solutions. The CEO explained to us how they facilitate trade between countries such as China and Brazil by provided credit insurance for the seller.
My primary focus as I go round the different countries is to look at the good supply chain and nutrition but my take home message from day 2 is to look wider than my subject area.
Day three was spent at the Syngenta office for APAC (Asian Pacific Countries).
It was interesting to compare the strategies for Europe and APAC as the customers have fundamentally different needs. There are 450 million APAC growers who are generally rural, small scale and do not have a lot of knowledge or finance. Syngenta focuses it’s Good Growth Plan programme on food waste, biodiversity and health. In Europe food waste at the farm level is lower than it is in the APAC countries and there are systems and technology in place to keep losses to a minimum, environmental policies exist in various forms to protect the land and users of chemical plant protection products undergo certified training. The same systems are not in place in APAC and is where Syngenta can add value.
The time in Singapore passed very quickly but we managed to make time to explore in the evenings and the highlight for me was the Garden City at night.
We have moved onto Indonesia for 5 days but the experience of being in Singapore has been enriching as well as building on my knowledge of ASEAN.
In May and June this year I will be travelling in a group of eleven people from the U.K, Ireland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil as part of the Nuffield Global Focus Programme. The GFP is set up to give the group exposure to global food production. We will visit Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Israel, U.K and USA flying from country to country and driving round the various locations
So Why a GFP?
It is a learning experience and a great opportunity to meet food policy makers, see food markets, visit food producers and of course to meet the people from the various countries.
There are parts of the itinerary that are highlights before I have even travelled. The trip to Washington D.C where we will visit the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the trip to Japan mainly because it is a lifelong ambition and a food discovery trip rolled into one.
I have been to all the locations before except Singapore and Japan, so the challenge will be to keep an open mind and view them through a fresh pair of eyes.
Group travel is not something I have done for years so I am looking forward to getting to know my fellow travellers and making new lifelong friends.
It is a huge undertaking, I’ll spend time away from a flourishing food consultancy business but I will come back with new insights which I am excited to share.
I took advantage of a business trip to a North Carolina sweet potato grower in December 2016 and spent my free time visiting the local supermarket to have a look at the range of vegetable products. I am particularly interested in the health claims and nutritional labelling that is used in the US.
I had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of eating orange flesh sweet potato which has a high beta-carotene content. There is interest in improving the nutrient density of crops for the benefit of consumers and I want to find out how nutritionists and growers are working together to achieve this.
My hosts were kind enough to take me out lunch where I was able to enjoy the traditional North Carolina barbeque chicken and Brunswick stew, I declined the deep fried oysters…..
Take a look at my vlog to for a snapshot of my trip..
The 2016 Nuffield Farming conference, held in Newcastle, was truly a great event.
The newly elected scholars for 2017 attended a ‘briefing’ the day before the conference, to get acquainted with the Nuffield family, project guidelines and to let reality sink in.
Nuffield Farming scholarships are awarded to people wanting to take a step out of their day to-day work in the food, farming and rural industries, to travel and study a subject of interest.
I had read various projects over the years and found them innovative and interesting but it was only this year that I felt the timing was right both personally and professionally for me to pursue my topic ‘Vegetable production for specific nutritional need’.
There is a great deal of focus on public health nutrition at the moment and debates on obesity, sugar and fat seem to be continuous. The focus on vegetables has not translated into higher consumption of them and the health of the nation continues to decline.
Where are farmers and food processors in these debates? Nutrition scientists are quick to point out national vitamin D deficiency, a lack of fibre consumption and low selenium in our foods but are these messages being incorporated into the decisions made about choice of variety in the fields and choice of ingredients in recipe dishes?
One area I want to look at more closely, is the level of potassium especially in potato products. People with chronic kidney disease have to limit their potassium intake and avoid potato based foods, whereas people with heart problems need to ensure that they have a good intake of potassium. So why don’t we label food products with the level of potassium?
So many questions, I guess now it’s time I went in search for some answers.
Now I wonder who I can speak with to get an appointment with Marion Nestle………..