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I was first introduced to my mate, Chika Ellis, through a mutual friend last year. Chika had come across my books of which her and her son Julian, just love (thanks, mate!). Chika works for JT Johnson and Sons in Kapunda, SA — a leading manufacturer and marketer of animal stock feed, both domestically and internationally.

 Along with her sales and export role, she is also a freelance writer, writing newsletter articles every month for an educational company in Tokyo that creates English textbooks. She hit me up for an interview about my books. So I thought, fairs fair, I think we need to hear about how Chika from Japan came to be living in Australia and exporting agricultural products!

WHAT DOES THE BUSINESS DO?

Johnson’s manufacture and market approximately 300,000 metric tonnes of hay, straw, pellets and TMF (Total Mixed Fermented hay) annually for the domestic, Asian and Middle Eastern fodder markets.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE ENTAIL?

I am responsible for orders and shipments of hay, straw, pellets and TMF for the ports in Japan, China, Malaysia and Middle East.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I enjoy using both Japanese and English on a daily basis. It’s nice to be able to speak in my native language but also being able to translate that into English to help my company. I also love my office which is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and actually used to be formerly part of the old showground, built in 1900. And yes, I love Shiraz produced by Johnson’s grapes too!

WHERE DOES YOUR MAIN MARKET COME FROM AT PRESENT?

Outside of Australia, Japan is our main market but recently we have also been increasing sales in South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South East Asia and the Middle East.

HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THE BUSINESS?

I moved to the Barossa Valley with my husband (where he is originally from), in 2008. From there I looked to put my sales and export experience I’d gained in Japan to use in Australia. I’d previously worked at a sun solar company, shipping huge amounts of solar panels to mainly Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, and Denmark. Initially, I thought it would be a winery that I would acquire work at but it was a contact of a winery that introduced me to the then president of JT Johnsons, from which I gained an interview from.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT AGRICULTURE IN AUSTRALIA?

It’s probably getting to know the people who work in the agricultural sector and seeing the passion they have for the land. They have not only helped me understand my job better, but also Australia in general. I’ve also learnt some pretty interesting Australian slang from them as well 🙂

IF YOU COULD TELL A KIDDIE ONE UNIQUE THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

You can learn about WHEAT through the George the farmer ‘Plants a Wheat Crop’ book. Did you know where wheat straw goes? We ship many containers full of wheat straw to Japan. They use the straw as horse bedding for race horses. They can only get this product shipped from JT Johnsons.

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