Member of the Month – Christopher Riddle, Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association

Christopher Riddle, Society Secretary of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Assoication, is the RASC Member of the Month, October 2014
Christopher Riddle, RASC Member of the Month, October 2014, in front of a poster from the inaugural meeting of the Cornwall Agricultural Association.

CHRISTOPHER RIDDLE, Show Secretary of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, is the RASC Member of the Month for October!

We asked Christopher the following questions…

Q. How many conferences have you been to?

This will be the third.  Previously Edinburgh & Zambia.

Q. What do you learn from attending?

It is fascinating meeting with my counterparts from other parts of the world and often learning that we all tend to face the same issues with often just the scale changing.  Wherever they happen to be, all shows need to move ever forward and reflect the modern world of agriculture as well as retaining that sense of history and tradition that we all value and which our competitors and visitors seem to enjoy.  There are always new views and ideas to be considered and my own research aimed at shows in the UK, USA and Australia in respect of my own presentation at Brisbane on the value of volunteers has already provided much food for thought.  It is a wonderful aspect of the modern world that once those contacts across the globe have been made, everyone is then only an email away when questions of mutual interest arise.

Q. What value did you receive from the last conference and what are you most looking forward to next month?

The time spent in Zambia two years ago opened my eyes to the fact that parts of Africa are capable of vast agricultural production and, given the resources and expertise, can not only feed themselves but many others beyond.  Africa also has a large number of extremely successful and dedicated shows societies; something not perhaps obvious to those of us in Europe.  On a practical front, I gained many new contacts with show societies across the world and the ability to tap into their views and experiences whether they run very large, multi-day events or more smaller scale enterprises and this is a very valuable facility.  The day dedicated to CEOs of show societies was particularly useful and this is something that I would particularly look forward to again in Brisbane.  From previous contacts, I am aware of how successful many of the Australian societies are and I particularly look forward to finding out more about how they do it!  It will also be my first visit to Australia and I know that it will be a very special experience.

Q. Do you think the RASC plays a valuable role in promoting best practice in Agricultural societies?

I think that anything that promotes an understanding across (and of course within) borders has to be good and shared experiences and knowledge is of great use.  If those from developed countries can also assist in furthering the aims of societies from less developed parts of the world, the overall effect for world agriculture must be a positive move.  In turn, the ability of those without large resources to do so much to promote agriculture can often be a valuable lesson to those with more significant budgets!  Big is not always beautiful.

Q.What do you think the biggest challenge facing the sustainability of  agricultural shows?

Economic downturn in many parts of the world can often lead to difficult situations for many shows and societies, particularly if a degree of public funding is involved, either directly or indirectly.  For most show societies however, the picture is often very healthy with a seemingly growing interest from visitors in the realities of farming and where their daily food actually comes from.  Societies are ideally placed to educate and inform plus of course the human love of competing means that the winning of a rosette at a show is still a very coveted thing.  Taking an imaginative view of how to put across those ‘educational’ messages is however vital and the best practice we will hear about in Brisbane, both in conference sessions and more informally, will be of great use to us all.