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As a Nuffield Scholar, township resident Clair Doan travelled for 15 weeks around the world

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

Norwich Township turkey farmer and banker Clair Doan spoke about the things he saw and was able to learn while travelling the world as a Nuffield Scholar. Doan was a guest speaker at the Township of Norwich Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Jan. 17.

Norwich Township turkey farmer and banker Clair Doan spoke about the things he saw and was able to learn while travelling the world as a Nuffield Scholar. Doan was a guest speaker at the Township of Norwich Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Jan. 17.

After a whirlwind world tour, Norwich Township resident Clair Doan has a renewed appreciation for what is distinctly Canadian in the agriculture sector.

Doan shared his insights as one of the guest speakers at the Township of Norwich Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Wednesday, Jan. 17. He pointed to Canada’s natural land and water resources as being unique; as well as the country’s educated workforce; political stability; diverse agriculture sector; cultural awareness; and ever-changing consumer trends.

The opportunity to travel the world to explore opportunities in agriculture came when Doan was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship. The scholarship is offered through Nuffield Canada to anyone between the ages of 25 and 45 who is involved in agriculture in any capacity of primary production, industry or governance. It allows them to travel to different countries to study different methods in the various fields of agriculture.

“Sometimes we get caught up in what’s going on in our own backyard and forget there are other methods,” said Doan, who travelled with the aim of learning more about the viability of supply management around the world.

For 15 weeks, Doan travelled to Singapore, India, Qatar, Turkey, France, Holland, Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Each of the countries presented something new and interesting, and Doan presented the highlights in his Chamber presentation.

Land use is an important consideration for farmers in Singapore, who use vertical greenhouses to grow their products in a smaller footprint.

Doan said he chose to visit India because, “I wanted to see and I wanted to feel what 1.3 billion people felt like.” That feeling he now describes as “chaos.” The challenges in that country include a population that is three times larger than what the city and its infrastructure were built for. The social welfare gap and caste system were troublesome for Doan, but he was interested to see the developments in agriculture, such as a women’s dairy co-operative.

In Turkey, Doan saw the government supporting the creation of farms in order to generate local food supply and export opportunities.

An incident not related to agriculture was also a reminder of the different challenges people face. Just a few hours after leaving the Istanbul airport, a bomb exploded there, killing 44 people.

“It was a reminder of what’s going on in other countries about the world,” he said.

France was where Doan said he received a wake-up call about the power of food in business and in culture when he and the members of his travelling group were made to slow down to enjoy the food. He said in Canada, people are often rushing and don’t take the time to savour their meals.

“In France, it’s important how food is consumed and with whom,” he said.

In Australia, Doan saw first-hand how much water matters.

“It makes me appreciate the resources that we have and make me recognize the resources we don’t use the way we should,” he said.