The Government of Western Australia has announced a $20 million research and development investment in the State’s agriculture and food sector to assists the grain industry capture new markets in Asia and the Middle East.
The Boosting Grains Research and Development project was unveiled by Premier Collin Barnett along with Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman at the opening of the 50th annual edition of Dowerin Machinery Field Days – one of Australia’s largest and most impressive agricultural expos.
According to Yahoo News, the project, which is part of the State Government’s Seizing the Opportunity initiative, will be led by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and includes setting up a new body known as the GrainsWestR&D network, which will aim to encourage co-investment from the public and private sectors with the support of the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
Agricultural scientists will be based in regional areas and an agronomy network will work with grower groups and agribusinesses.
The Premier said this Royalties for Regions investment would go directly towards addressing the challenges of overcoming obstacles to crop productivity to increase yields, including growing more grain in the face of declining rainfall, reducing the impact of frost damage and overcoming disease risk in areas of high rainfall.
“The State Government is committed to supporting innovation that will see the Western Australian grains sector increase productivity and continue to grow to take advantage of the unique trade opportunities in our region,” Mr Barnett said.
“Securing premium quality markets will provide ongoing benefits to growers, industry, the regions and the State’s economy for generations to come.”
Mr Baston said the Boosting Grains Research and Development project would provide a catalyst for growers to adopt on-farm innovations to accelerate production gains.
“Collaboration will be central to the success of this investment, as the Department of Agriculture and Food works closely with growers, grower groups and external operators to push the boundaries of sustainable production,” he said.
“Preliminary work has already begun to ‘frost proof’ farm businesses, grow more grain with less rain, lift the yield ceiling and tailor agronomic practices to the conditions. Conquering these challenges will enhance the WA grains industry’s reputation as a reliable supplier of safe, premium quality product in the highly competitive international marketplace.”
The Department of Agriculture and Food West Australia (DAFWA) has conducted research which showed that the State has the potential to increase the overall value of annual grain exports to more than $5 billion.
According to Mr Barnett, the State was on target for another bumper harvest even though some parts of the Wheatbelt had missed out on rain.
“Agriculture is facing its best opportunity for 50 years,” Mr Barnett said.
“Things won’t simply fall into our lap but the growth of Asia in population, urbanisation, increasing wealth and the broadening taste for different types of food create opportunities. A lot of other countries are completing for that growing market.”