Scientist returns home with keys to pig industry improvement

Published 01 May 2008

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A Vietnamese scientist is returning home after gaining knowledge and experience at the University of New England that will enable her to improve livestock production and profitability in Vietnam.

The University’s Animal Genetics Breeding Unit (AGBU) has assisted the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s Crawford Fund by hosting Dr Pham Thi Kim Dung to research strategies to improve pig breeding programs in Vietnam.

The Executive Director of the fund, Dr Denis Blight AO FRSA, travelled to Armidale last week to present a commemorative plaque to Dr Dung as she neared the end of her time at UNE as an ATSE Crawford Fund Fellow. He congratulated Dr Dung on her efforts, which would see Vietnam “significantly increase the carcass value of its pigs through the selection of exotic breeds to crossbreed with the local pigs”. “It will be tremendous for Vietnam in terms of its own production, and for export,” he said.

After three months at UNE, Dr Dung will return to Hanoi in Vietnam early in May, taking with her a wealth of knowledge to share with her colleagues. “From little things big things grow,” Dr Blight said. “And that’s true of this.”

During her time at UNE Dr Dung, mentored by the Director of AGBU, Dr Hans Graser, has concentrated on the genetic evaluation system PIGBLUP. Used worldwide, PIGBLUP is a computer platform designed to help producers make the most of their on-farm animal selection. Contributors to the program include the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Australian Pork Limited.

Dr Dung thanked Dr Graser and AGBU researchers Dr Kim Bunter and Dr Susanne Hermesch for their support. “I have enjoyed finding a better way to do things, and the multicultural exchanges with visiting international academics have been particularly interesting,” Dr Dung said.

“The most important thing I gained from this training is the way of thinking, communicating in a multicultural environment, and being more active and creative,” she added.

Dr Blight said the purpose of the Crawford Fund was to increase Australia’s engagement in international agricultural research, which was now particularly important because of the global food production crisis and exacerbating factors such as climate change. “Australia is well positioned to do something about that,” he said. “And universities like UNE are extremely well positioned – as illustrated by the way Dr Dung has been able to come here and take advantage of UNE technology in a way that will enhance pig production and profits in Vietnam.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show Dr Dung holding the commemorative plaque at the time of the presentation.