11 May, 2015

$5.8 million funding boost to benefit Australian horticulture

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The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Minister for Agriculture, has announced almost $5.8 million in funding for two Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) led projects under Round 1 of the Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit Grants Programme.

Both projects, with a total value to the Australian horticulture industry of nearly $13 million, are amongst $26.7 million worth of grants announced yesterday as part of the Government’s $100 million R&D pledge to benefit Australian farmers.

One of the HIA projects to receive funding – Multi-scale Monitoring Tools for Managing Australian Tree Crops – Industry Meets Innovation, will offer significant improvement in farm gate returns, productivity and grower auditing capabilities, resulting in improved biosecurity and disaster recovery for Australia’s tree crop industries, particularly avocado, macadamia and mango.

The other successful project – Adaptive area-wide management of Queensland Fruit Fly (Qfly): Guidelines for efficient and effective pest suppression and stakeholder adoption, will optimise the cost-effective delivery and release of sterile male flies, develop a strategy to maximise uptake of the commercial service, and provide a regionally focussed extension for best management practice to secure and grow market access for Australian horticultural produce.

“Yesterday’s announcement is a significant milestone for the Australian horticulture industry,” said HIA CEO John Lloyd.

“The Tree Crop project will deliver a farm-level decision support tool to assist growers with yield forecasting and optimisation, early detection of pest and disease outbreaks, support product traceability (tree-to-plate), and reduce input costs.”

“Qfly is the major pest of Australian horticulture, resulting in a national annual loss of approximately $100M. It is also a major barrier to accessing markets. This funding will help control one of the greatest threats to the Australian horticulture industry.”

HIA also supported five submissions from other Research and Development Corporations of which four were successful:

  1. Market and Consumer Insights to Drive Food Value Chain Innovation and Growth (led by MLA)
  2. Improved Use of Seasonal Forecasting to Increase Farmer Profitability (led by RIRDC)
  3. Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D (led by Dairy Australia)
  4. Consolidating knowledge of extension to better deliver practical results to primary producers, founded on what producers want from extension services (led by RIRDC).

The Rural R&D for Profit Grants Programme aims to improve farm-gate productivity and profitability and deliver real outcomes for Australian farmers. The second round of funding priorities will be launched mid-year.

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