Fu­ture in scholar’s sights

Shepparton News - Country News - - FRONT PAGE - By Alana Chris­tensen

Ge­of­frey Thomp­son Hold­ing’s tech­ni­cal man­ager and Shep­par­ton lo­cal, Bisi Oladele, has re­ceived a Nuffield Schol­ar­ship and will travel abroad to re­search the chang­ing re­quire­ments of hu­man cap­i­tal in the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try as it con­tin­ues to be­come more au­to­mated.

Hav­ing trav­elled to Aus­tralia from Nige­ria in 1990, Ms Oladele, who gained a PhD fo­cus­ing on food tech­nol­ogy post-har­vest from the Univer­sity of New South Wales, has held a num­ber of food in­dus­try and har­vest jobs across Syd­ney and Shep­par­ton, be­fore set­tling into her cur­rent role.

Hav­ing started her role as a tech­ni­cal man­ager with Ge­of­frey Thomp­son Hold­ings seven years ago, Ms Oladele has over­seen the grow­ing role of au­to­ma­tion, with pro­duc­tion ex­pected to in­crease by 20 per cent over the next three years as a re­sult of fur­ther au­to­ma­tion.

Through her schol­ar­ship, which was sup­ported by the Wil­liam Buckland Foun­da­tion, Ms Oladele is plan­ning to in­ves­ti­gate con­cerns that the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try is ill-equipped in hu­man cap­i­tal to ef­fi­ciently per­form in an in­creas­ingly au­to­mated and ex­pand­ing in­dus­try.

‘‘As our pop­u­la­tion grows and open doors into the ex­port mar­ket, strate­gic plan­ning for the fu­ture of pro­duce grow­ing and pro­cess­ing is re­quired,’’ she said.

Look­ing to fur­ther un­der­stand­ing how Aus­tralia is com­pet­ing with the rest of the world, Ms Oladele plans to visit top ap­ple and pear pro­duc­ing and ex­port­ing coun­tries in­clud­ing Italy, Brazil and South Africa as part of her re­search.

‘‘Ev­ery­one is go­ing in the way to­wards tech­nol­ogy, in­creas­ing yield and pro­duc­tion and get­ting more into ex­port mar­ket.

‘‘(Vis­it­ing other coun­tries) is a good way of telling whether we are do­ing things well.’’

Now call­ing Shep­par­ton home, Ms Oladele said she wanted to ‘‘give back’’ to the re­gion and hoped the in­dus­try could work to keep tal­ented work­ers in the re­gion, rather than see­ing them leave for cap­i­tal cities.

She plans to use her schol­ar­ship to pro­mote ca­reer path­ways and raise aware­ness of op­por­tu­ni­ties in hor­ti­cul­ture to school stu­dents, with an ob­jec­tive to re­cruit, train and re­tain high qual­ity work­ers.

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