Richard Agetu reflects on the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference

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Richard with Dr. Alexandra Peralta

I am Richard Chinedu Agetu, currently enrolled in the Master of Global Food and Agricultural Business program at the University of Adelaide. I am from Nigeria and was privileged to benefit from the on-award enrichment fund to present my research findings at the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference, which was held in Perth between 13 – 15 February 2020.

The conference set an unprecedented level of learning and networking for me, as I have never had the opportunity to be exposed to such levels of interdisciplinary perspectives and high-level dialogues. It was amazing. Before the conference commenced, I took part in a practical workshop where we were trained on how to carry out Benefit-Cost analysis using statistical tools. It is a skill most economists would find incredibly useful.

My poster presentation, ‘Food safety verification by blockchain, a consumer-focused solution to the global food fraud crisis, enlightened delegates on the potentials of harnessing blockchain technology to enhance food traceability, food safety, and combat food fraud.

Food fraud costs the global food market over 65 billion dollars annually. Besides the financial burden it places on the sector, food fraud and food safety issues pose a high risk for the health and livelihoods of consumers and agricultural value chain actors.

As a professional in the food processing sector in Nigeria, I have witnessed the occurrence of food fraud and non-adherence to food safety guidelines on an enormous scale. This prompted me to find an innovative solution that would be accessible to consumers, irrespective of their socio-economic class.

My reintegration action plan has been developed around this idea, using technology to ensure food fraud is brought to its barest minimum, and food safety is upheld. Via the poster presentation, I was able to receive feedback and beneficial suggestions from industry actors, academics and other students from an interdisciplinary perspective. I also established mentorship relationships with individuals that share my interests.

Via this presentation, I  found that poster presentations are quite underrated and need to be utilised more often by students. Posters facilitate in-depth analysis of your research, that leans itself to more constructive criticism, genuine inquiries and more direct feedback.

My experience at AARES further emphasised the importance of approaching challenges and solving problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. It made the interaction between Agricultural economics, food security, climate change, power generation and management, sustainability, resource management, and enhanced livelihoods for us as a human race very clear. In my opinion, platforms like these are great avenues for collaboration and establishing relevant networks. I would encourage other scholars to take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy the benefits it brings.

I can’t thank Australia Awards enough for the travel grant to learn, impart knowledge, and have an excellent time in Perth. Thank you again and again. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

Photo Credit: Richard Chinedu Agetu

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