June 28, 2012
A select group of Australian farmers and agribusiness operators were among 50 leading-edge primary producers from around the globe who recently attended the world‟s first Global Farmers Master Class, held in the Netherlands.
The week-long education program – staged by global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank – brought together 50 leading farmers from 16 key food and agriculture-producing countries around the world.
Held from June 9 to 15, the program was attended by producers from countries as diverse as the United States, Ireland, Brazil, Rwanda, Zambia, Chile, Germany, Paraguay and New Zealand.
Among the Australian participants chosen to attend the program, Lockwood Valley poultry business owner and manager Rod Fenwick, from Victoria, said he was "overwhelmed and thoroughly impressed" by the calibre of the international farmers who attended the Global Farming Master Class and by the perspectives they brought to the program.
"It was world-class – we had some fascinating debates on sustainability, productivity, policy – all the issues and opportunities facing agriculture globally," Mr Fenwick said.
"By the year 2050, the global population will hit nine billion and we, as food producers, need to double our food production by then. That's 40 years‟ time – tell a room of entrepreneurs that and what are they going to want to do, knowing the challenges and opportunities ahead?"
Based around the theme "the rise of the rural entrepreneur‟, the Master Class focussed on the challenges facing the world‟s farmers to sustainably grow in order to meet global food production demands.
Modelled on Rabobank‟s local Executive Development Program – a business management program for leading-edge farmers successfully run by the bank in Australia and New Zealand for the past 13 years – the Global Farming Master Class program encompassed sessions on innovation in agriculture, chain management, sustainability and succession.
The program was delivered through interactive presentations, class discussions, working groups and case studies and included site and farm visits and a farm stay. Sessions were delivered by leading global researchers, senior business executives and industry experts.
"As participants, we were filled with complete inspiration – we need to do more. And globally," Mr Fenwick said.
"Lots of connections were made during the program and leads will be followed up. We can now talk to these people from all over the world about agribusiness opportunities, we can collaborate and form partnerships and share technology from our parts of the world.
"At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is about realising an opportunity and acting on it."
Rabobank group executive – Country Banking Neil Dobbin said a key focus of the Master Class was on knowledge-exchange of best practice between some of the leading farmers in the world.
"Challenges like having to double food production and doing this in a sustainable way are not easy to address. Bringing together 50 leading farmers from around the world allows us to really get to grips with this challenge and face it head on, while each of the participants can learn from the others," he said.
"Farmers, including those in Australia, increasingly have to evolve into rural entrepreneurs and this involves the need to innovate and access education. The professional, well-educated, innovative and connected farmer plays a vital role in the shared responsibility to close the productivity gap."
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 110 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 48 countries, servicing the needs of more than nine million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1600 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is one of Australasia’s leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 93 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: +61 2 8115 2744 or +61 439 603 525
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: +61 2 8115 4861