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Advice for teachers -
Agricultural and Horticultural Studies

Unit 4 – Area of Study 2:  Sustainable business practices

Outcome 2

Analyse dimensions of sustainability concepts across the food and fibre supply chain, evaluate strategies to improve the sustainability of agricultural and/or horticultural businesses, and discuss the role of dimensions of sustainability in business practices.

Examples of learning activities

  • Investigate and discuss the concept of food and fibre supply chains. Create a model or infographic that illustrates a food or fibre supply chain for Australians, with focus on local, state-wide, federal and/or global systems of supply.
  • Select a single agricultural or horticultural commodity and model a typical journey from ‘pre-farmgate’ to ‘end consumer’.
  • Revise the dimensions of sustainability, defining and brainstorming examples of environmental, economic and social sustainability and outlining ethical considerations of each.
  • Research and present examples of aspects of food production that require ethical oversight. Apply these ethical considerations to a range of scenarios, such as live export and the farming of eggs for human consumption.
  • Allocate case studies from Sustainability Victoria to groups of students. Ask students to write and present summaries of these examples.
  • Visit expos or trade fairs such as the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo  to see sustainability and ethical principles in action.
  • Examine federal government water management resources such as the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. Discuss the competing considerations that may have influenced the development of the plan.
  • Create a summary of animal welfare regulations, with a focus on those affecting Victoria. Discuss why these rules are in place and enforced.
  • Research water-related entitlements at the Victorian Water Register. Explain how a move to more sustainable water use poses challenges and opportunities for food and fibre production.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Investigate the role of emerging technologies in providing opportunities for more informed decisions about food and fibre choice; for example, by reading and discussing the article ‘Blockchain and food provenance: Why it matters’.
  • Use the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Ecological Footprint Calculator to calculate student ‘footprints’. Use these values as a reference point to investigate the carbon footprint of various farms or farming practices.
  • Watch the YouTube video Royal Flying Doctor’s Service (RFDS) Drought Wellbeing (5:37 mins). Discuss why mental health is a major concern in farming communities and identify strategies to support mental health in these communities. BeyondBlue provides resources to support mental health of men in rural and remote areas, such as articles on the topic.
  • Explore perspectives from multiple sources discussing the 'milk wars' between major supermarkets and the impacts on primary producers in Australia.
  • Read the CSIROscope article ‘The more the merrier – farmers must diversify to survive’ and discuss the role of diversification in broadening markets for Australian primary produce.
  • Research the history and aims of the 'Australian made' logo and campaign. Discuss the effectiveness of this campaign in meeting its stated aims.
  • Investigate examples of marketing by primary producer groups such as the ‘You never lamb alone’ campaign. Copies of various advertisements can be viewed on YouTube. Analyse the ways that these communications seek to persuade consumers and how they support primary producers.
  • View the 2011 Four Corners episode ‘A bloody business’ (45:53 mins) about live export practices in Australia. Discuss the role of activism in mainstream and social media at the time and in subsequent years and how these impacted on producers and government decisions.
  • Choose an Australian food or fibre industry. Research the quality standards placed on the production processes for this industry. Create a presentation that details these standards and how producers ensure they are working to meet them.
  • Choose one of the key regulations or policies that affect the sustainability of food and fibre producers, such as the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. Investigate the intended purpose of the policy and evaluate the impact it has on producers and how they conduct their businesses.
  • Investigate the occupational health and safety requirements of a range of food and fibre industries in Australia.
Example icon for advice for teachers 

Detailed example

Investigate the role of emerging technologies in providing opportunities for more informed decisions about food and fibre choice

  1. Students choose one emerging concept (environmental, economic or social) influencing consumer choices in relation to food and fibre; for example, the use of blockchain technology to provide information about food provenance.
  2. They read the article ‘Blockchain and food provenance: Why it matters’. (This could be done as a jigsaw activity).
    Teachers provide guiding questions or prompts such as:
    • Explain the concept of ‘food provenance’ and how it links to ‘sustainability’.
    • What is blockchain? Write a 15-word summary of blockchain for someone who has never heard of the term.
    • Outline how blockchain and food provenance link with each other.
    • Identify the problem that blockchain is resolving for consumers.
    • Explain why this problem is a major issue for consumers and food producers.
    • Explain why blockchain is considered ‘trustless’ and unfalsifiable.
    • What do you think about the use of blockchain to help people better understand food production and supply chains?
    • Do you believe that the writer of this article has any stake in blockchain technology? Would that change your opinion about its use in food provenance?
  3. Students write a one-paragraph summary of the article including the key points made.
  4. Students conduct further research into blockchain and food provenance.
  5. Working in pairs, they develop a ‘pros and cons’ list for applying blockchain technology to food and fibre production.
  6. Students draw conclusions, either individually or as a class, about the efficacy, viability and overall desirability of adopting this technology across food and fibre production, with a particular focus on Australia.
  7. A mini-debate could be conducted between students or groups with differing conclusions, with students required to use their knowledge about blockchain and food provenance to justify their point of view about widespread use of the technology.