Ahead of the WFA Summit 2019, AgriBriefing spoke to Julia Ronghua Zhu, who leads the Mycotoxin Management and Poultry teams at Alltech.
Julia has always had a passion for animal nutrition and graduated from China Agriculture University in 2008, before joining Dachan Group. She worked at the firm’s Tianjin feed business for six years, mainly focussing on poultry nutrition.
What is your background in agriculture?
When I was in Danchan Group, although I worked in the R&D department, my role saw me undertake a lot of other duties, such as experimental technician, formulator, marketing assistant and salesperson. It has been an interesting and rewarding journey. At Alltech I often visit customers with the sales team to audit the feed mills, helping our customers to improve the production and prevent mycotoxin contamination.
What are the key drivers in agriculture and food? What are the main challenges the sector is facing now?
I think the key driver is the consumptive power of consumers and the challenge as an industry is to react to that. The main challenges in China is African Swine Fever.
What role do women play in agriculture today and how you can see it changing in the future?
I think men and women are equal in this field, and maybe women will be more and more important.
Where do you think there are opportunities for women in the sector?
There are many opportunities for women in the agri food, especially in research and in sales. In terms of natural skills, women are patient, persistent and good at communicating and understanding others.
How can we encourage more women to join the sector?
We need to overcome the pay gap. In general, women are not as well paid as men and that can be off-putting to women, especially those starting out their careers.
However, we are seeing more and more outstanding women in this field.
What can agribusinesses do better?
I think for a highly integrated enterprise, it needs more and more professionals to participate in the field of excellence.