The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) has announced three new directors to join the board from January 2022. New board members Ali Capper, Navaratnam (Theeb) Partheeban and Geoff Sansome bring expertise in horticulture, marketing, veterinary, environment, agronomy and policy.
The OFC Council is made up of 11 voluntary directors, who each serve a three-year term. Capper, Partheeban and Sansome will join the board from January 2022 to January 2025, supporting the curation and development of three conferences. With a strong background in marketing and communications, and an extensive knowledge of the horticulture sector, Capper farms at Stock Farm in Worcestershire growing dessert and cider apples, and hops.
A central figure in the UK fresh produce industry, she is chair of the NFU’s National Horticulture & Potatoes Board, British Apples & Pears and Wye Hops.
Her Nuffield Scholarship in 2014 focused on the export of British hops, and niche apple varieties, travelling to Germany, New Zealand, Canada, the US, France, Belgium and Vietnam.
Inspired to apply for a director role after speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference in 2020, and participating in the OFC Emerging Leaders programme, Partheeban is a farm vet working in the south-east of England.
His professional experience has varied from working in clinical practice, university higher education, the pharmaceutical sector and in the global animal health industry.
This has allowed him to study and conduct research in a number of countries around the world including the US, China and South Africa. He is also co-founder of the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society (BVEDS).
With over 40 years’ of experience helping farmers and agriculture adapt to change, Sansome, head of agriculture at Natural England, joins OFC.
He is a partner in the family farm in Worcestershire, and formally worked for ADAS as both an agronomist and lead on the agricultural transformation programmes in the Former Soviet Union and the Balkans.
He also has experience working for the Defra Rural Development Service and as a 2004 Nuffield Scholar he studied rural development approaches in Europe and North America.
OFC co-chairs Barbara Bray and Sarah Mukherjee said: “Over the last decade, the council has focused on ensuring the board’s skills are widespread and diverse, to ensure the conference continues to be current and provide a platform for debate and discussion to support the evolving industry. We are delighted that Ali, Theeb and Geoff will be joining the board, at a time when it is crucial we look for fresh perspectives and continue to host speakers from across the world that inform, challenge and inspire our delegates through, what undoubtedly will be a very turbulent few years. We wish the three of them all the best during their term.”