Every year Nuffield Ireland scholars travel with a group of their peers on a defined study tour. This element of the scholarship is called the Global Focus Program (GFP) and it aims to do just that – provide a global perspective to the scholars in advance of them commencing their individual travel and topics of study.
The GFP group that commenced their tour in China (there are a number of different routes) traveled from Asia (Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, China), through Germany before visiting Ireland for six days at the beginning of July before moving on to Washington DC and Texas.
On 2 July Nuffield Ireland organised an event, the purpose of which was to meet with the GFP scholars and hear about what they have learned. On the night we got an insight into issues facing agriculture in their sector and their home country and how they intend to apply their Nuffield scholarship experience in the future.
We also heard from Aisling Meehan, 2011 scholar, about how the Nuffield experience has impacted her life and work.
Key points from Irish leg of GFP from the the perspective of the traveling Group:
- Beef Industry – Big challenges on the horizon. Dynamic evolution of beef strategy required but this strategy was not clear during the trip.
- Over-dependence on subsidies in this sector but question asked – how does this culture of subsidies add value to the industry and does it discourage Innovation?
- Dairy Knowledge transfer necessary to assist beef industry.
- ‘Dairy Country’ – very evident throughout the trip especially portrayed in Kerry Group, Dairymaster and Teagasc Open Day. Critical to compete in dairy on a global scale as Irish dairy presence was not particularly evident in Asian aspect of GFP.
- The continued development and marketing of Ireland’s Green imagine important.
- Brand Ireland – ’Don’t lose our roots’ – what was particularly evident throughout the trip was the Irish Agricultural link to community and consumers which is a great competitive advantage.
- Negative consumer perception evident in Europe particularly Germany but this negative attitude was not evident in Ireland. This link to the consumer must be protected!
- Land Ownership – Need policy to enable / encourage land sales or rental for further expansion and efficiencies. Dairy was potentially restricted by land size and scale.
- Tillage – industries visited had developed from family businesses to agribusiness and this ‘focus’ the group believed contributed to their success.
- Agri-tourism – Huge area for opportunity and growth. It is vital to capitalise on this & have effective ‘joined up’ strategy in place.