SA Department of Agriculture officers have had a long and impressive history of participation in international agriculture projects, and developing networks with professional agriculturalists, governments and farmers in overseas countries to exchange knowledge, information and skills.
Livestock officers, horticulturalists, agronomists and soils officers have provided their technical knowledge to agricultural industries in a range of countries including, South America (sheep husbandry), India (poultry production), Pakistan and Papua New Guinea (horticulture), China (agricultural research development, horticulture crop development, pasture and crop seed production) and the Middle East (farming systems, sheep husbandry, soil erosion control). Many officers have provided expertise overseas in developing countries in a voluntary capacity.
Aided by Federal funding, SA Department of Agriculture officers were also given the opportunity to obtain post-graduate training in research and extension institutions in the United Kingdom, Europe, USA and New Zealand, and bring this knowledge back to Australia.
Veterinary officers have also assisted countries dealing with exotic disease outbreaks (eg foot and mouth), gaining valuable experience should an outbreak occur in Australia.
Rural Youth overseas exchanges operated over more than 30 years, providing young farmers access to valuable international experience.
Specialists from the SA Department of Agriculture have also assisted the SA Minister of Agriculture on many overseas promotion, marketing and fact finding missions.
Impact of International Exchanges on SA Agriculture Industries
Some examples of how the involvement of SA Department of Agriculture offices in international networks has impacted on the state’s agriculture industries include:
- attendance at the Grasslands Conference held bi-annually in the United States (and associated meetings) led to the setting up of international seed trading standards.
- in the late 1940’s, R.I. Herriot, in his capacity as Soil Conservator, gained valuable experience in the USA. This led to formation of community based statutory boards which provided an excellent soil conservation service across South Australia and Australia.
- N.S. Tiver’s studies in the USA (in the 1960s) contributed significantly to the establishment of SA’s small seeds industry and its international recognition.
- A.F. Tideman represented Australia at the first International Weed Science Conference conducted by the FAO (Davis, California, 1970), and worked with the Australian Agricultural Science Exchange Mission (which occurred after the Cultural Revolution) in China.
- The Department also sent specialists overseas to research the possibility, and access organisms significant in the biological control of rabbits, millipedes, skeleton weed, and a wide range of crop pests.
- The outstanding medic and other pasture seed collection missions by E.J. Crawford in the Mediterranean countries and the Middle East (during the 1960s and 1970s) led to the Medicago seed bank. This would in turn provided a valuable source of genetic material for pasture improvement around the world.
Middle East Dryland Farming Projects
Some of the most significant overseas projects undertaken by the SA Department of Agriculture were in Middle East countries introducing dryland farming systems during the 1970s and the 1980s. These programs were run in:
(Click on these countries for details of the projects.)
At the time, these dryland farming projects created widespread interest. Some funding was provided by the World Bank and FAO, but the projects were largely funded on a commercially contracted basis. The SA Government established SAGRIC International to facilitate and coordinate delivery of these contracts.
The professional expertise provided by SA Department of Agriculture staff provided played a vital role in the success of these Middle East projects. These government to government contracts also resulted in significance sales of SA sourced farm machinery, fencing, pasture and crop seeds around the Mediterranean Basin and in the Middle East. These contracts encouraged the SA Government to utilise professional and practical farm help from within the state’s agriculture industries.
Tideman, A.F.; 1994; The Medic Fields published by Openbook Publishers, Adelaide, ISBN 0 646 1987 X