Agri­cul­ture’s ‘can-do’ at­ti­tude key to shap­ing the in­dus­try’s fu­ture

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - NEWS -

AUS­TRALIAN agri­cul­ture’s young lead­ers are ready to tackle the in­dus­try’s big­gest chal­lenges and are step­ping up to help shape an in­dus­try that is set for stag­ger­ing growth.

The Ru­ral In­dus­tries Re­search and Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (RIRDC) has met with more than 150 of these young agri­cul­ture in­dus­try lead­ers over the past six months at a se­ries of events held in ev­ery state and ter­ri­tory.

The Re­gional In­no­va­tion Con­ver­sa­tions se­ries, which fol­lowed on from the 2016 GrowAg sum­mit, brought these young peo­ple to­gether to dis­cuss is­sues af­fect­ing the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try, the trends shap­ing its fu­ture and how to op­ti­mise for growth.

RIRDC managing di­rec­tor John Har­vey said the Re­gional In­no­va­tion Con­ver­sa­tions have demon­strated that there is enor­mous tal­ent and en­thu­si­asm in the next gen­er­a­tion of agri­cul­ture lead­ers.

“While their main fo­cus is on build­ing their own busi­nesses and de­liv­er­ing valu­able ser­vices and in­for­ma­tion to the agri­cul­ture sec­tor, these 150 young lead­ers are help­ing to de­fine the fu­ture of a rapidly chang­ing and grow­ing in­dus­try,” Mr Har­vey said.

“I was en­er­gised by their en­thu­si­asm, im­pressed at their de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed and ad­mired their prac­ti­cal ‘just get it done’ at­ti­tude.

“They are dy­namic, en­tre­pre­neur­ial and com­mer­cially savvy.”

Over the course of its con­ver­sa­tion se­ries RIRDC iden­ti­fied a num­ber of key themes that res­onated again and again with the au­di­ence of young agri­cul­ture lead­ers:

Tech­nol­ogy is driv­ing rapid in­dus­try change and has tremen­dous po­ten­tial to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency, but there is a risk of Aus­tralia be­ing left be­hind if the cap­i­tal is not avail­able to in­vest in tech­nol­ogy.

Lack of in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity re­mains a bar­rier to tech­nol­ogy adop­tion in re­gional ar­eas, but peo­ple are find­ing their own so­lu­tions of­ten by­pass­ing tra­di­tional ser­vice providers and car­ri­ers.

En­trepreneur­ship and in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tion are the new nor­mal, par­tic­u­larly in the agtech and sup­port ser­vices sec­tor.

Skills di­ver­sity and more peo­ple work­ing in agri­cul­ture are crit­i­cal to fu­ture suc­cess and in­dus­try growth.

Agri­cul­ture’s im­age is shift­ing, it’s no longer just about the tra­di­tional farmer, and this trend needs to con­tinue to show­case in­dus­try di­ver­sity, at­tract peo­ple with the re­quired skills and cap­i­talise on in­ter­na­tional busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

So­cial me­dia is the main source of in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing and con­nect­ing for young lead­ers in agri­cul­ture, but there is also a crit­i­cal need for them to build real net­works and cre­ate their own sup­port­ive culture of in­no­va­tion, prac­tice change and risk tak­ing.

“It be­came clear to us over the course of the events that these young peo­ple are suc­ceed­ing and shap­ing the fu­ture of the in­dus­try,” Mr Har­vey said.

“The ques­tion we are now faced with is how do we sup­port this co­hort of young lead­ers and help them to keep pace with the skills, re­search, in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy they will need to keep Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture thriv­ing?”

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