THE world requires 50% more food than we have available now to feed itself and incredibly 40% of the food we do produce goes to waste.
This is one of the enlightening messages Matthew Frater bought home after attending the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth’s Conference in Zambia. Matthew was selected by the Glendale Agricultural Society to represent the area’s farming community as a Next Generation candidate. An opportunity to good to be missed by the young farmer from Alnwick.
Matthew, aged 27 currently works on his family’s farm at Boulmer Hall. He travelled in late September and has bought back a wealth of knowledge on a global scale of farming and feeding for the future. This is the first time the conference had been held in a developing country, an intriguing look into a country with a challenging climate and extreme poverty.
The Next Generation Forum, was held separately to the main conference and as a delegate Matthew joined a large group of other under 40 year olds to look at all aspects of the agricultural world and just how we feed the world. Joining Matthew was fellow Northumbrians and Glendale Agricultural Society members Charles Orpwood, a Smithfield Next Generation candidate and Simon Orpwood a Trustee of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth.
The itinerary of the trip included visiting local agricultural attractions and areas of interest; the conference opened with an address from HRH The Princess Royal and included a number of agricultural leaders. The papers presented on day one the conference covered subsistence farming, commercial scale farming and large scale farming. Day two was World Agriculture Day and looked at the Global Picture of Agriculture, this included topics such as challenges faced, science and technology and climate change. The final day focussed on agricultural societies and how they contribute to the world of agriculture on both a small and larger scale.
Matthew said the highlights of the trip were meeting like minded farmers, meeting Princess Anne, seeing how the RASC and the new Next Generation helped set up an agricultural show in India and of course visiting the Victoria Falls and going on an African Safari.
In terms of what he learnt, he said that developing countries are catching up quickly in agricultural practices, Genetically Modified crops could have huge potential in helping developing countries if allowed and irrigation in developing countries is crucial. He also noted that educating the world about food and farming held huge importance and on discussing the Glendale Agricultural Society’s Children’s Countryside Day initiative it received excellent feedback. People even discussed taking the idea back to their local shows in South Africa, Australia and the UK.
Most importantly though was what Matthew felt he could bring back to the Glendale Agricultural Society and farming in the UK, he commented,
“Keep farming! With the world population increasing at such a rapid rate and we need more food. The UK farmers are at the forefront of the professional business and we have farming down to a science, maximising productivity and minimising costs from both a business and environmental perspective. I also do not think we can underestimate the ambitions and contributions of the agricultural industries of developing countries; they have a lot of great ideas on sustainability and productivity and are catching up fast.”
“Understanding agriculture on a more global levels meant I was part of a sharing of initiatives and looking at the purpose of the industry for the entire world, not just the UK”.
The trip was partly funded by the Glendale Agricultural Society who have always held a focus of supporting young farmers.