The first year of my Nuffield Farming Scholarship has come to an end and with just under 6 months to go until the report deadline is due, I find myself looking at how to efficiently manage my travel time.
Fortunately at Fruit Logistica, held in the fantastic city of Berlin, I was able to fix meetings with businesses I had struggled to get in touch with, meet other Nuffield Farming scholars and approach new organisations whose products I have an interest in.
It really has been a good start to the year for plant based eating. Firstly Veganuary was instrumental in increasing sales of fruit and vegetables but with the launch of the Wicked Kitchen range of vegan meals this year, there is a real pull from consumers to see vegetables as not just a bit on the side….
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.