FIRST-HAND: University of Queensland agricultural science students in the field in Kopeng, Central Java.
FIRST-HAND: University of Queensland agricultural science students in the field in Kopeng, Central Java. David Innes

Students develop new perspective in trip to foreign fields

UNIVERSITY of Queensland agricultural science students broadened their knowledge of Indonesia agricultural practices and systems through a two-week study visit.

Eighteen Bachelor of Agricultural Science students studying at UQ's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences took part in the agricultural study program at the University of Gadjah Mada in the city of Yogyakarta.

Course co-ordinator Dr Karen Harper said the program introduced future agricultural scientists to farming systems in South-East Asia, encouraging them to develop a global perspective.

"Students attended lectures, went on field excursions exposing them to an array of agricultural systems, participated in research projects, and experienced spectacular geological and cultural locations,” Dr Harper said.

"It's an amazing opportunity for students, as Australian agricultural scientists are often employed in Asia to improve food security in highly populous regions.

"These regions have high potential for improved production and, as future scientists, our students may one day have the chance to provide expertise on producing food efficiently and at great scale.

"UQ's focus on tropical agriculture and offering direct student exposure to low-input, small-scale systems and the challenges they pose will enhance our students' professional capability in the region.”

Student Peta Stockwell said the trip had changed her attitude to agricultural production in developing countries, particularly in relation to farming families.

"I was impressed by the number of productive, efficient farmers we saw, and realised that, just like Australia, there's a large gap between the best and worst producers,” she said.

"For me, this trip demonstrated the potential for research to make a big difference in agricultural productivity and the quality of life for many people.

"Some of the small changes I'm hoping to make could potentially lead to enormous improvements.

"I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and it's truly added to my degree, and my personal and academic development as an agricultural scientist.”

The New Colombo Plan Mobility Program has announced funding for a similar trip for UQ agricultural science students in July 2019.


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