Shropshire Star

'Embrace change' is message to farming students at Harper Adams

'Welcome and embrace change – and the opportunities it can bring you.'

BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science student Robyn McConnell, 21, from Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, is presented with the President’s Prize by Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan

Those were the words of advice for Harper Adams students from Liam De Paor, the after-dinner speaker at this year’s Harper Ireland Club dinner, which took place on Friday.

Mr De Paor is the Director of the De Paor Agri Business and marketing consultancy in Co. Cavan and an Honorary Member of the Harper Ireland Club.

He shared stories and wisdom from the 25 years of the consultancy and beyond with the students, alumni, family and friends gathered at the dinner, and emphasised how the students needed to start driving change right away.

He told them: “The world population continues to grow and as the standard of living improves families in Africa, Asia and the Middle East can afford to consume more dairy products and eat more of our grass-fed meat.

“By 2050, food production will have to increase by 50 per cent to feed the growing world population and to improve the health of the undernourished people in the third world. Indeed, the world’s population is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050.

“In this context what are you students going to do about it? You have only 25 years to meet that challenge and achieve that goal once you graduate. That is only about halfway through your working life.

“So you guys have to get cracking and get moving quickly!"

Despite this challenge, Mr De Paor added that he believed that food and agribusiness graduates from Harper Adams had sustainable careers in front of them, and recalled how, in a similar after-dinner speech, he had heard David Brown, President of the Ulster Farmers Union, highlight how food security is growing as an issue.

And, Mr De Paor added: "The good news for you students is that farmers and Ag graduates have a bright long-term future. More people will need more food and as the standard of living improves worldwide, they can afford to pay for dairy products and meat.

"The volume and value of food produced is increasing steadily and there are more and more employment Agribusiness opportunities off-farm."

Summing up, he added: “Above all, have the confidence to meet the challenges of change – after all, you are a Harper Adams graduate! My warm good wishes to you for a successful and satisfying career."

Mr De Paor was part of a part of invited guests who were given a tour of the Harper Adams campus and facilities before the dinner, and speaking afterwards he added: "We were very impressed with the commercial farm and agri research work at Harper Adams.

"For example, the sow unit is producing more than 34 weaners /sow per annum, which is a world-class performance."

The annual dinner, at The Hundred House hotel in Norton, also included the 2023 prize-giving ceremony.

This saw BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science student Robyn McConnell, 21, presented with the President’s Prize by Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, in his role as President of the Harper Ireland student society.

The prize is awarded each year in recognition of students that have given their all to Harper Adams, Harper Ireland and the student community.

BSc (Hons) Agriculture student Stephen Evans, 21, was presented with the John Thompson & Sons Victor Truesdale Prize by Edwin Truesdale.

The prize, awarded in memory of Victor Truesdale, former sales director of John Thompson & Sons Ltd, who passed away in 2001, includes a specially commissioned crystal punch bowl and a cheque.

The prize honours the student from Ireland deemed to have made the greatest contribution to life at Harper Adams University.

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