The Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications and a delegation of high-ranking trade officials visited the University of New England’s Armidale Campus and the Kirby SMART Farm facility on Monday, April 28.
The Minister, Mr Shindo Yoshitaka, was welcomed at UNE by Vice-Chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan before heading to the Kirby SMART Farm where the delegation enjoyed a lunch of locally sourced prime Wagyu beef and beautiful views of the New England countryside.
Head of the Kirby SMART Farm project, Professor David Lamb said that the Japanese delegation was keen to see the technology being used at the Kirby Farm, including precision farming, soil moisture mapping, electronic tracking of livestock, internal telecommunications networks, the use of satellite monitoring systems and the National Broadband Network.
Minister Shindo expressed interest in learning about how information and communications technology (ICT) is being used at the SMART Farm.
“Japan is promoting the utilisation of ICT for resolving social issues, economic growth and productivity improvement such as in the agricultural sector.
“I have heard that the SMART Farm has one of the most progressive approaches in the world. I was very pleased to visit the SMART Farm in Armidale,” Minister Shindo said.
Professor Lamb said Mr Shindo’s visit paves the way for more cooperation between Japan and UNE in the future.
“The potential to develop direct collaborative relations between UNE and leading research and agricultural organisations in Japan is very exciting.
“In particular this collaboration will focus on how ICT can be used to enhance farming practices both here and in Japan,” Professor Lamb said.
The delegation was given a tour of some of the facilities at the working farm and a demonstration of cattle and sheep handling.
The tour of Kirby Farm comes during a three day visit to Australia by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications for inter-governmental talks on trade, initiated by the Australian Prime Minister’s meetings in Japan last month.