Farmers focus on boosting returns
THE Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture has launched a major social-research initiative called the Aspirations for Food and Agriculture project, or TasAgFuture.
It was launched last week in Hobart at a TIA event celebrating the inaugural National Agriculture Day.
The research team is led by senior research fellow Peat Leith, a specialist in social research on agricultural and sustainability issues.
“How can TIA best work with Tasmanian food producers and processors to assist the sector to grow sustainably? The Aspirations for Food and Agriculture project aims to answer this question,” Dr Leith said.
“Through the project TIA will learn how food producers and processors in the state are innovating now, how they see the future and what constrains and enables them to achieve their goals.”
The recently released White Paper on agricultural research, development and extension in Tasmania outlines the State Government’s future direction until 20150 and mentions the Aspirations for Food and Agriculture project.
“TIA has an important opportunity to help define the future direction of RD&E for the Tasmanian food and agriculture sectors,” director of TIA Professor Holger Meinke said.
“We at TIA want to create value for Tasmanian food producers and processors, as well as inform policy discussions with industry and government,” he said.
“Using academic rigour, the project will help us meet the needs of the agriculture sector, support sustainable growth and ensure the sector is competitive into the future”.
Dr Leith and a team of researchers are interviewing 100 producers and processors around the state and connecting with TIA’s partners in industry and government.
“We want to explore the ways the Tasmania’s food and agriculture sectors are innovating, their vision for the future, and what is needed to achieve goals,” Dr Leith said.
“These discussions will help clarify where Tasmanian agriculture and food sectors are heading and how we will get there,” he said.
Dr Leith said next year the team would reach out more widely to food producers and processors and engage the broader community.
Professor Meinke said the TIA would apply the results through internal processes and workshops with key stakeholders to determine ways forward for agricultural research, development and extension.
The project launch included a panel discussion on the future of Tasmanian food and agriculture, provoked by questions from the audience and real-time opinion polls.
A full recording of the event is available on TIA’s YouTube channel, TasInstituteofAg.
For more details visit utas. edu.au/tia/tasagfuture. TECHNOLOGY is a major area of investment for Tasmanian farmers, a survey shows.
The latest CommBank Agri Insights research shows a changing trend in how farmers plan to spend their money.
The survey, conducted in September, shows 38 per cent of farmers in Tasmania plan to increase technology and innovation investment in the coming year. This is an increase of 11 per cent from last year.
Regional and agribusiness banking general manager for Tasmania, Darryl Mohr, says land availability has tightened and farmers now focus on lifting productivity and efficiency rather than expansion.
The survey shows half of Tasmanian farmers who plan to increase technology investment are primarily motivated by increased productivity and efficiency, well above the national average of 37 per cent.
About 18 per cent referenced labour efficiency as a reason to increase investment.
“Technology, as an enabler of efficiency and productivity, is of great interest to Tasmanian farmers, who are looking at options like auto-steer equipment and business benchmarking tools,” Mr Mohr said.
He said Tasmanian farmers were also looking to invest in the specialist skills of their teams and external advisers with 26 per cent to increase spending in that area, up 18 per cent compared with this time last year.