Timothy Byass says the time is right for Chinese investment in Australian agriculture. Photo: Philip GostelowAN entrepreneur and delegate to the China Australia Millennial Project has found a gap in Australia’s export trade: selling legume and lupin to China.

Tim Byass, a 31-year-old former employee of the CBH Group in Western Australia, is working with a Chinese company in Qinghai to import Australian lupin and is helping the company grow its own strain of the legume in China.

“While there is a lot of talk of Chinese interest in agribusiness, China’s investment in Australian agriculture is only three per cent of the total foreign investments in Australia,” Mr Byass said.

“China is increasing its food supplies. This is the moment to incentivise them to invest in Australia’s agriculture.”

Mr Byass is one of the 200 Chinese and Australian people chosen to attend an entrepreneurial incubator backed by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) over five days in June.

The event, which will be held during the Vivid Sydney Festival, is for entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 25 to collaborate on solutions to problems such as global food security and population management.

“We have a strong bilateral relationship with China. On this project I would like to make connections with Chinese counterparts who have the same interests as me. I would also like to link up with food security bodies in China and see how I can assist them with their work,” Mr Byass said.

Mr Byass’ aspirations proved timely given the recent frozen berries health scare from China.

His fellow delegates from China have equally big dreams.

A Tibetan-Chinese 28-year-old and University of Sydney student, Danma Niu, would like to set up a group to work with Tibetan communities in China’s Gansu province to provide jobs and education for women.

“I grew up on the vast Himalayan plateau initially resigned to a life as a Tibetan woman. When I was a child, my only future seemed to be bearing children, herding livestock, fetching water, and collecting wood and yak dung for fuel,” Ms Niu said. “But I pursued education and proved to the villagers that educating women is worthwhile.”

Ms Niu implemented several projects in her village following her English studies at the Qinghai Normal University.

She hopes her mentors at the China Australia Millennial Project will teach her business management, finance and human resources skills to start her own social enterprise in Gansu employing Tibetan women to make cosmetics and yak milk soaps.

“It is not very common to have female entrepreneurs in my region. This exchange workshop will give me the opportunity to meet with successful female entrepreneurs,” she said.

Like the other Chinese delegates, Ms Niu wants to grow and cement the the economic relationship between Australia and China, a key criteria of the selection of delegates.

William Zhao, 25, from Liaoning, wants to establish a “youth platform” to promote “better people-to-people cultural integration” between the two nations. He is a student union leader at Sydney University who champions the rights of international students.

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