Registration open for program that takes farming worldwide

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, July 25, 2019

Local farmers in search of a worldwide adventure may just have the opportunity in 2020.

The nonprofit Nuffield International has opened the application period for the Nuffield International Farming Scholarship Program, open to farmers and other agriculture professionals seeking to “explore the global agricultural industry to find new best practices and insight they can bring back home with them,” according to a press release from the Nuffield Scholars program. One local farmer is encouraging others to take part in the program meant to create connections and solidify agricultural leadership.

Archie Griffin, with the family-owned Griffin Farms, Inc., spent about four months in 2018 traveling the world as a Nuffield scholar. The program took him to The Netherlands, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, various places in the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Brazil, New Zealand, China, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Israel, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Australia. It was an adventure of a lifetime, and an adventure in agriculture.

“From a professional and a business standpoint, the Nuffield program has allowed me to view what is out there and ways that we can change our operation, and it’s given me an insight into what the future might hold. And it’s that ability to bring all that information together from multiple countries and multiple areas, bring all that information back to one source and be able to apply it to our one operation,” Griffin said. “It’s opened up so many doors that I didn’t even know existed. … I’d say it personally allowed me to branch out and increase my network of individuals in the industry, not only locally, in the state, and nationally, but internationally.”

Griffin said his focus of study was sustainability: ways to make a family-owned farm such as Griffin Farms, Inc. sustainable not only now, but in the future.

IN AFRICA: Archie Griffin talks to a fellow agricultural professional in Zambia, Africa. (Archie Griffin)

In recent years, Griffin Farms has seen the decline in consumption of tobacco — the profit margin is not what it used to be, Griffin said. Seeing diversification in practice, instead of reliance on a single commodity, during his travels has inspired him to do the same at home.

“We’ve looked into creating more of a synergetic circular economy on our farm and looking at our biggest costs and seeing how we might be able to recycle uses or products that would normally be deemed as waste; how we can recycle that into the economy,” Griffin said.

Griffin talked anaerobic digestion, using produce waste to generate methane, which would then be used to power the process to cure tobacco. They’re studying diversifying the product grown on the farm and expanding the farm stand, as well.

“We’re looking at green energy and renewable resources. Internationally, that’s where all the focus is. It’s only a matter of time before that’s going to be implemented here, and that’s going to come down to politics,” Griffin said.

Applications for the 2020 program are due by Sept. 30, and in-person interviews will take place in locations around the world between late October and early November. Selected Nuffield International Scholars will be announced in December. Nuffield International Scholars are typically between the ages of 25 and 45, with direct engagement in the agriculture industry, according to the press release.

ACROSS THE WORLD: A visit to China introduced Nuffield Scholar Archie Griffin to that country’s farming practices. (Archie Griffin)

“People that are going to enjoy this program and gain the most out of it are the ones that are hungry to learn, not just about the agricultural industry but the international trade and the international politics of agriculture — the behind the scenes things that farmers don’t get to see,” Griffin said. “It’s geared toward those who are hungry to learn and are OK with going out of their comfort zone. I think everyone should be able to go outside their comfort zone at some point. It’s only when you go outside your comfort zone that you learn how to change and grow.”

For more information about the program, visit