The Archibull Prize is an innovative hands on program that sees urban and rural schools research an agricultural industry and express their findings through artwork – specifically a fibreglass cow. Now in its sixth year the Archies, as they are affectionately known, have reached over 120,000 students and chalked up some impressive successes. Last year’s winner “Cowch”, which was designed by students from Matraville Sports High School and now resides in the office of Hon Niall Blair, the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water.
“This is a great initiative to encourage students to learn and build confidence around farming and natural resources, how the food they eat can be impacted by challenges like climate variability and biosecurity threats and to find out more about future career opportunities.” The Hon Niall Blair MP NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water.
“The Archibull Prize program communicates that safe food starts in the paddock and ends on your plate. Ensuring farmers are able to supply safe, affordable and healthy food is a shared responsibly and this an important message that we need to deliver to our future generation,” Adrian Piccoli NSW Minister for Education.
The Archibull Prize matches Young Farming Champions (YFC), enthusiastic young people working within agriculture to each school. The YFC support the students and excite them about career prospects in the sector. The Champions, with the support of industry, assist the students to follow the journey to feed and clothe and power an ever increasing population and to understand the challenges facing farmers.
The 2016 competition theme ‘Feeding, Clothing and Powering a Hungry Nation encourages students and teachers to have courageous conversations about the greatest challenges to Australian agriculture – climate change, food and fashion waste, declining natural resources and biosecurity. The program design also invites the students to be part of the solution by sharing their ideas on how to tackle these challenges as individuals, as a community and as the mums and dads of the next generation.
Feeding and clothing the world is a shared responsibility, right across the globe.
While Australia’s farmers are among the world’s best at growing quality food and fibre for our nation and many more around the globe, they cannot do it alone.
Every minute the world’s population grows, adding another 158 mouths to feed. Over the next four decades, more food will need to be produced than has been during the last 10,000 years combined.
Highlighting the challenges and opportunites for farmers everywhere in the future.
But the issue is more complex than economies of scale.
The last 100 years has seen Australia become increasingly urbanised. An estimated 89 percent of Australians now live in urban areas, with no close links to rural communities and little knowledge about the production of their food and fibre. It’s equally troubling that farmers are also gradually losing touch with urban communities through their reduced interaction with modern supply chains.
The diversity and complexity of the modern Australian economy now means greater competition for resources, including land, water and people, among all sectors. A greater awareness of the role agriculture plays in supporting our cities will contribute to informed decision making around resource allocation.
It’s clear that to move forward and meet the escalating food and fibre needs of our cities, as well as satisfy the community's expectations about environmental sustainability and animal care; both rural and urban communities must have a greater understanding of one another. This can only happen when a common ground for communication and knowledge-sharing is found. Farmers know they need to reconnect with their consumers, but modern supply chains mean farmers have never been so isolated from their end-consumer.
Likewise, how do our urban communities learn about rural Australia?
An innovative and fun in-school program, the Archibull Prize traverses the boundaries of communication between rural providers and city consumers. Put simply, the program is an agricultural and environmental themed art competition for primary and secondary student groups.
But the Archibull’s aims are much greater than this.
The Archibull Prize brings the farm into the classroom.
It provides students with opportunities to meet young farmers and to gain knowledge and skills about the production of the food they eat, fibres they use and the environment they live in.
It creates an opportunity for students to work together to create an amazing artwork that tells the story of farming as they understand it.
It builds relationships between schools, industry, business and the community as they progress through the Archibull Prize’s different elements.
It raises awareness of exciting career pathways.
It promotes change and fosters two-way conversations.
And it builds lifelong relationships between consumers and their farmers.
One of the biggest challenges agriculture currently faces is how to get the next generation of farmers involved when farming is becoming more complex, high investment and hard work, on top of the perception that it is a low return business.
Since the turn of the century, the amount of viable agricultural land has been decreasing by about 1 percent every year. This means the majority of the additional food needed by 2050 will come from being able to grow more food on less land.
The Young Farming Champions (YFCs) understand the challenges farmers face, and know that becoming a farmer is no longer a birth right but a conscious choice by rural entrepreneurs. They are agriculture’s freshest advocates, who believe in being proactive in finding solutions.
Art4Agriculture’s YFCs represent specific primary industries – Cotton, Wool, Cattle and Sheep, Dairy and Grain – and they are paired with students participating in The Archibull Prize. These passionate and enthusiastic young farmers are the real life link between farm and classroom. They love what they do and they can’t wait to start conversations with consumers.
You and I are both consumers, playing a vital role in the paddock to plate and field to fabric cycle. Consumers are the driving force behind how and why food is produced. This means we also have responsibilities.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, our current global footprint exceeds the world’s capacity to regenerate by 50 percent. If we continue consuming as we do today, we will need the equivalent of two planet Earths by the mid-2030s.
It’s even more disturbing to hear Australia has one of the world's largest ecological footprints per capita. More than 50 percent of Australia's footprint is due to greenhouse gas emissions, with the average household emitting around 14 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. If all countries consumed the amount of resources that Australian's do, it would take three Earths to support their lifestyle.
So another very important question is: How do we reduce waste and produce more food, with less water, chemicals and fertiliser?
The message is clear and urgent.
We need to develop relationships along every step of our supply chain, enabling farmers and consumers to make informed decisions about food and fibre choices, and farm production systems. We have to recognise that by becoming more informed, one by one, we can all make a difference.
Fresh ideas and innovative solutions are needed to start building this partnership between farmers and consumers for a sustainable future, and The Archibull Prize is the first simple step.
Productivity growth combined with new land sector markets could lift our agrifood exports and deliver regional economic benefits.
Future agricultural prices and land sector incomes are projected to trend upwards. Australia’s most productive agricultural land is likely to continue to be used for productive agricultural use.
With productivity improvements in line with long-term trends, Australian agricultural output volumes are projected to rise by at least 50% by 2050 – even in scenarios where bioenergy and plantings for carbon sequestration increase.
New markets and policy settings that enable carbon farming, especially in currently less productive areas, would allow many rural landowners to increase and diversify their incomes.