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    Student's recovery from near-fatal stomach condition inspires farming research

    Posted 13 March

    "I’m looking into the factors that influence what farmers currently produce and see what would encourage them to produce food that is suitable for people with dietary requirements due to a health-related condition."

    Luned Davies and some sheep

    A student being treated for a potentially fatal stomach condition is using the experience to shape research to help others facing similar problems – and needs the views of farmers across the UK.

    For her Honours Research Project, BSc (Hons) Agri-Business student Luned Davies is examining ways in which farmers could be encouraged to produce food for people with health-related dietary conditions such as hers – using a short online questionnaire which farmers will need to take less than 10 minutes to complete.

    Luned, who was brought up on a sheep farm on the outskirts of Neath, is aiming to graduate from Harper Adams later this year, a year after her fellow students on her course – after having to take a break in studies due to the deterioration of her health.

    She said: “I have suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since 2015, but in 2020 I suddenly became unwell with no known cause.

    “I was fortunate enough to be able to continue my second-year studies virtually - due to everything being online due to the covid pandemic - and undertook my placement year near home.

    “I had to end placement early due to my health.

    “I was rapidly losing weight for no reason and unable to digest or absorb food - which resulted in hospital admission at the end of February until mid-March where I received Nasal Gastric (NG) feeding.

    “After being discharged I was still unable to maintain weight or digest food and unable to fight off any infections and became severely malnourished.

    “By August 2022 I was readmitted to hospital unable to walk and do basic things – I received NG feeding again, and was told that there was a high possibility I would die. By September, I had to discuss my studies with tutors at Harper.

    “I was adamant that I would be able to complete my degree - even if it was from a hospital bed - but it was decided the best option was to defer my final year.”

    By January 2023, Luned had been fully discharged from hospital, after doctors diagnosed her with Gastroparesis – a condition which means she is not able to absorb or digest food properly.

    She added: “I require an alternative diet which influenced my dissertation topic.

    “I’m looking into the factors that influence what farmers currently produce and see what would encourage them to produce food that is suitable for people with dietary requirements due to a health-related condition.

    “I want to understand what factors influence farmers decision making on farm and what would encourage them to potentially produce a different end product.

    “I’m looking in to see what farmers think the consumers are looking for and see if there is a need and demand for change to cater for people with health related diets. I am specifically looking at people who must alter their consumption due to illness or allergy - and not people who opt for a different diet for veganism or vegetarianism.”

    While working to complete her studies – with the help of those farmers who will complete her survey – Luned is continuing to have tests and treatment, both to find out if there are other potential illnesses affecting her health, and to find ways of alleviating her symptoms.

    She stresses she is a keen supporter of British farming, which she describes as playing a ‘pivotal’ role in her life – and she hopes that her research will ultimately help farmers to both identify new markets and ways in which their produce can help people with health-related dietary conditions.

    She added: “I personally struggle to find suitable foods, and don’t think there are enough British options available, especially at events and shows.

    “I believe that British farmers are capable of producing a variety of products, and especially with sustainability increasing and a growing population, it is important that as a nation we produce food for all needs.”

    Luned’s survey can be found here:

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