Sydney-sider’s thirst for knowledge inspires a hunger to feed billions

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Navigating his way out of a metropolitan maze into the wide world of agriculture, Sydney University’s young visionary, Ben Peden, is hoping to map out a pathway that would allow him to harness the power of agritech to help feed the world’s swelling population.

Having been surrounded by high-rises and sky-scrapers all his life, it would be a mistake to assume Ben’s city upbringing had limited his thirst for agricultural knowledge. At just 22, Ben’s strategic vision for the role agriculture has to play in supporting a sustainable future is palpable.

As the proud recipient of the 2023-24 Horizon Scholarship sponsored by AgriFutures Australia, Ben is leveraging academic opportunities to explore a career dedicated to improving food security for a generation grappling with climate change, soil degradation, and evolving consumer demands.

“Agriculture appealed to me because it seemed like an industry where I could make an impact,” said Ben. “We’ve got to feed 10 billion people by 2050, and that seems like a pretty awesome mission to get behind,” he said.

As a member of Barker College’s agricultural program during high school, Ben says it was the passionate teachers that opened his eyes to the multifaceted role that agriculture plays throughout the world.

“They [Barker College ag teachers] showed us that there are so many avenues, from science, to commerce, to communications, and that there’s jobs in the city and in the bush,” said Ben. “I was drawn in by the amount of opportunity in the industry.”

Sponsored by AgriFutures evokeᴬᴳ⋅, Ben has recently attended the evokeᴬᴳ⋅ two-day conference in Perth where he had the chance to network with like-minded professionals in the industry.

“We consider ourselves facilitators in the ecosystem,” explained Manager of evokeᴬᴳ⋅, Dallas Pearce. “Our connections are quite broad so we’re not only able to connect Ben with the right people, but we’ve also been able to provide him with some pretty cool opportunities like coming to evokeᴬᴳ⋅ this year,” she said.

“Ben’s just a phenomenal young leader, he’s got such a bright future ahead of him and we’re really lucky to have him involved in evokeᴬᴳ⋅.”

Ben describes the opportunities presented by evokeᴬᴳ⋅ as both a “blessing and a curse.” While he’s not actively seeking employment, holding the role of Customer Support Coordinator at Agriwebb, a leading livestock management software company, Ben acknowledges that his involvement in the event has broadened his horizons. He emphasises that his immersion in the agricultural sector has strengthened his conviction in agritech’s pivotal role as a major industry driver.

“I think the whole problem with the food security issue is that we need to be more efficient, and I personally think that agritech is one of the big ways we’re going get there,” said Ben.

“Working with a software business has been a great way to see how much these systems can actually improve performance on farm.”

Ben is open to diverse opportunities and has earmarked consultancy as something he wants to try his hand at. However, his broader vision of a sustainable future remains the true horizon of his focus.

“Ultimately I just want to be able to make an impact on being able to feed the world in whatever capacity it comes,” he said.

Find out more about the AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship
Find out more about AgriFutures evokeᴬᴳ⋅

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