Fight for a farm­ing fu­ture

Young cham­pion wants cli­mate change ac­tion

Central and North Rural Weekly - - STRAW­BERRY SAGA - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

AS A 12-year-old, Anika Molesworth watched her fam­ily en­dure a decade of hard­ship as their Bro­ken Hill sta­tion was bought at the very be­gin­ning of the Mil­len­nium Drought.

The 10-year dry spell had a tight grip on Ru­pee Sta­tion, in far western NSW, and it’s a time Anika will never for­get.

Re­flect­ing on her early days on the prop­erty, the 30-year-old said there was a sil­ver lin­ing.

“Our in­tro­duc­tion to farm­ing was a steep learn­ing curve but that’s what sparked my in­ter­est in en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion and learn­ing how to look af­ter the prop­erty so you could run a vi­able farm­ing busi­ness,” she said.

“It also sparked my in­ter­est in cli­mate change be­cause that re­gion of Aus­tralia is pre­dicted to be­come hot­ter and drier with more fre­quent droughts and dust storms.”

As it’s her goal to even­tu­ally take over the fam­ily farm, she has ded­i­cated all of her time in re­cent years to equip her­self with agri­cul­tural knowl­edge and to be­come a fierce cam­paigner for bet­ter cli­mate so­lu­tions.

She has a stack of de­grees un­der her belt and her ded­i­ca­tion and lead­er­ship on the cli­mate cause saw her named as a Youth Cham­pion in 350’s re­port He­roes Build­ing Aus­tralia’s Low-Car­bon Econ­omy.

She is a board mem­ber of the Aus­tralian Farm­ers for Cli­mate Ac­tion group, hav­ing been in­volved with the body since day dot, and Anika be­lieves pri­mary pro­duc­ers are find­ing their voice on cli­mate change.

“As a farm­ing com­mu­nity we no­tice changes, and we have re­alised we will have to act quickly if we want to have a vi­able farm­ing fu­ture,” she said.

“Busi­ness as usual is no longer an op­tion.

“On my fam­ily prop­erty at Bro­ken Hill, we are al­ready

❝Busi­ness as usual is no longer an op­tion. — Anika Molesworth

run­ning African sheep (dor­pers). If it be­comes too hot and dry for them, what’s next?”

Anika is cur­rently based at Grif­fith and is in the “deep depths” of writ­ing her PhD, a topic that took her to South East Asia to work with farm­ers and sci­en­tists in Laos and Cam­bo­dia.

“These farm­ers I have been work­ing with are among the poor­est in the world,” she said.

“They have a re­ally low adap­tive ca­pac­ity to make changes as they have low fi­nances and limited land size. So when they are hit by flood, drought or a pest out­break they tum­ble quickly into hard­ship.”

Anika said as the ‘lucky coun­try’, Aus­tralia was in a po­si­tion to im­ple­ment changes.

She said as well as bet­ter gov­ern­ment poli­cies, mov­ing away from the use of fos­sil fu­els was vi­tal.

“Look, we re­ally need to pro­mote re­new­able en­er­gies in this coun­try,” she said.

“We have to get away from burning fos­sil fu­els, be­cause they re­ally are un­speak­ably dam­ag­ing to our health, the health of our en­vi­ron­ment and to the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

YOUNG LEADER: Farm­ers for Cli­mate Ac­tion board mem­ber Anika Molesworth has been named Youth Cham­pion in 350’s re­port He­roes Build­ing Aus­tralia’s Low-Car­bon Econ­omy.

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