Zita Ritchie, a young dairy researcher from Warrnambool, Victoria was awarded a Gardiner Foundation scholarship to attend the prestigious Crawford Fund 2014 Parliamentary Conference held from Tuesday, 26 to Thursday, 28 August in Canberra.

Scholarship recipient, Ms Ritchie is a Dairy Extension Officer at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and has a strong interest in international agricultural development, spending 12 months as an Agricultural Officer with the Kenyan Red Cross Society.

Titled Ethics, Efficiency and Food Security: Feeding The 9 Billion, Well, the Crawford Fund 2014 Parliamentary Conference focused on a range of vital issues facing Australia and the developing world, including ethical and efficient food production.

Through the scholarship, Ms Ritchie was presented with an opportunity to network with like-minded scholars and researchers and hear from global leaders on a variety of topics, including economics, population, competition for resources and advanced technologies.

Gardiner Foundation Chief Executive, Mary Harney said the Gardiner Foundation is dedicated to investing in young leaders to help develop a long-term future for the dairy industry. “We felt it was imperative to provide an emerging dairy researcher with a unique opportunity to attend one of Australia’s leading conferences on development and food security.”

Female speakers featured heavily, including Ms Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Enjoy for Climate Change; Dr Shenggen Fan, International Food Policy Research Institute Director General; and Dr Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive.

Ms Ritchie said she looks forward to applying learnings to her role at DEPI and studies at Deakin University, where she is enrolled in a Master of International and Community Development.

“The Crawford Fund Conference was a valuable experience, enabling me to meet young, like-minded scholars and experienced agricultural researchers.

“I will be able to apply what I learnt to the international agricultural research project I will be a part of in Indonesia, encouraging farmers to support global food security,” said Ms Ritchie.

As part of the scholarship, Ms Ritchie will present to relevant academic or research institute, work with the industry to increase interest in international agricultural research and develop an article for the Crawford Fund newsletter and website.