The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2012 participants completed two weeks of study in China and India during the International Travel Seminar in late February and early March. The 14-day seminar included 16 sessions that focused on supply chain and value chain issues of these two large international trading partners. More than 50 speakers gave presentations to the group during the two weeks.
The class began its Asia seminar in Hong Kong with a tour of the Maersk container port shipping terminal in Nansha, in the Pearl River Delta. The group toured a Cargill soybean crushing facility in Dongguan and was briefed on international trade by the Agricultural Trade Office of the U.S. Consulate on the role of Hong Kong, a financial focal point for currency conversion in trade with China.
The IALP group next traveled to Beijing for a briefing at the U.S. Embassy before receiving presentations at the U.S. Grains Council office. Those presentations included an overview of the work of the U.S. Grains Council and American Soybean Association in expanding exports to China. A Monsanto executive also discussed the work of the multinational corporation in providing innovative products to feed the nearly 1.4 billion people in China. Presentations were also given on navigating business partnerships and the role of the Chinese government in agriculture.
Two panel discussions were held at the offices of Pioneer Hi-Bred, China. Bill Niebur, the general manager of Pioneer in China, is a 1988 graduate of the IALP. The panel discussions focused on the use of technology in Chinese agriculture and the unique business opportunities presented by the Chinese market, and featured representatives of Bunge Corporation, John Deere, Pioneer, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
One day of the seminar was spent at Deqingyuan Agriculture Technology Co. Ltd (DQY), a zero-emission poultry farm north of Beijing, where chicken manure and waste water are collected and processed into biogas for power generation.
The group contrasted agriculture supply and value chain issues in China with those in India. Beginning in New Delhi, the Class of 2012 heard presentations on the importance of the Indian market to American farmers from a representative of the U.S. Grains Council in India, Archer Daniels Midland, GSI, and the Indian Agricultural Extension Service. Ten staff members of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi gave presentations about the work of the Embassy staff, highlighted by Allan Mustard, Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs for India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Representatives of FICCI, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, discussed incentive programs offered to corporations seeking to locate in India and the challenges facing agricultural advancements in the country.
One day was spent traveling north of New Delhi to a small village where an innovative fish farm has been developed utilizing American-grown soybeans as fish feed. The group witnessed a field demonstration of New Holland tractors and attachments designed for use on the typically smaller farm fields in India. A presentation was given on the Global Cold Chain Alliance that seeks to reduce the waste of fresh fruit and other agricultural products due to the lack of availability of adequate refrigeration.
In Pune, India, the Class of 2012 visited the Tolani Maritime Institute, where ship captains and crew are trained to guide grain, oil and other commodity vessels around the world. A full-day seminar was held at the John Deere Training Center in Pune, featuring presentations on equipment built in India and sold worldwide, in addition to presentations from Monsanto Corporation on bio-tech cotton. A representative of Tata Corporation told the group about the seven divisions of that company including Tata Chemical, which provides agricultural nutrients.
“Understanding the supply and value chains of agriculture in these two countries is important for agricultural leaders,” said Joyce Watson, IALF CEO and President. “The international seminar helps to give participants the knowledge they need to be effective policy and decision makers for American agriculture.”
Over a two-year period the IALP class, a leadership education program conducted by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF), is attending 14 seminars covering current social, political and economic issues in the agriculture industry.
The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation was founded in 1981. It is a non-profit educational corporation under Illinois law. A board of directors, comprised of recognized leaders in agriculture and business, oversees the program. Candidates for the leadership program are selected during a competitive application process. Men and women 25 to 49 years of age working full-time in production agriculture or agri-related occupations are encouraged to apply. Applications are now being accepted for the Class of 2014, which starts in September 2012. More information is available at www.agleadership.org.
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