Paraguayan keen to learn Aussie ways

Paraguayan keen to learn Aussie ways


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Francisco Ferreira, Paraguay, taking a closer look at some of the wool on offer at Melbourne last week.

Francisco Ferreira, Paraguay, taking a closer look at some of the wool on offer at Melbourne last week.

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PARAGUAY'S Francisco Ferreira was busy learning about the lay of the land at the Melbourne wool stores on Wednesday.

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PARAGUAY'S Francisco Ferreira was busy learning about the lay of the land at the Melbourne wool stores on Wednesday.

On a day when the wool market jumped up by 50-80c/kg, he was experiencing his first wool sale in Australia.

The 27 year-old is undertaking an exchange program for 12 months through Communicating for Agriculture Exchange Programs (CAEP), and has been learning the ropes for the past five months at Greg and Helen Polkinghorne's Berrimal West farm, near Wedderburn.

He has completed an agriculture degree in his home country of Paraguay, and also has a small farm near the capital city of Asuncion - where he runs Brahman cattle.

"I've come here to learn more about sheep, cattle and cropping," he said.

In Paraguay, there are no Merino sheep, but other sheep breeds include Corriedales and Dorpers.

Agriculture is the country's biggest economic driver, with soy and beef among the top two key export products.

Mr Ferreira said he had already learnt a lot about the similarities and differences between Australia and Paraguay.

"We have a lot of immigrants from Germany, China, and other countries such as Japan that came over after the war - and they all run big co-operative farms together," he said.

He said the co-operative farming structure was a smart way to run an agricultural business.

"I've also noticed the medium farmers here are bigger compared to home, they are more willing to spend a lot on machinery," he said.

Mr Ferreira also raised the subject of foreign investment, and said that overseas buyers were attracted to Paraguay's cheap land and fertile soils. "We have regulations, but I don't agree that foreign investment is always a good thing," he said.

When he returns to Paraguay, he hopes to expand his own farm.

Mr Polkinghorne said he and his wife regularly took on exchange students that were keen to learn more about farming in Australia.

"We've had students from Brazil, Costa Rica, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, France, England Wales," he said.

"We probably get more out of it sometimes than they do."

The students live with the Polkinghornes and learn about all aspects of their farming operation.

"They really become a part of the family."

Mr Polkinghorne said the experience had taught him to value Australia.

"In Europe, farmers are a lot more regulated, and it really does teach you to appreciate the conditions and the country here," he said.

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