De­vel­op­ment on wish list

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Acon­cen­trated ef­fort com­bin­ing re­gional in­fra­struc­ture and re­search de­vel­op­ment with an aim to gen­er­ate fi­nan­cial growth in in­dus­try sits at the top of a re­gional wish list for the new year.

Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent David Jochinke said 2019 pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity for state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to work to­gether on re­gional pro­grams that would ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit the Wim­mera and south­ern Mallee.

Mr Jochinke, also Wim­mera South­ern Mallee Re­gional Part­ner­ship chair­man, said he hoped a ma­jor spinoff of all the strate­gic pieces com­ing to­gether would be fur­ther progress of a Net­worked Cen­tre of Grains Ex­cel­lence.

“The busi­ness case for the cen­tre is with the State Gov­ern­ment and we will see how that pro­gresses,” he said.

“But hope­fully things that are go­ing on at state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment level come to­gether and work well for the re­gion.”

Mr Jochinke said the State Gov­ern­ment had made a com­mit­ment to use in­fra­struc­ture pro­grams across Vic­to­ria as a key de­vel­op­ment driver and that was im­por­tant for the Wim­mera.

“There is a need for in­fra­struc­ture work across the re­gion, espe­cially in roads and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, and this of course leads into re­search and de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

“There is a fed­eral elec­tion com­ing up in the new year and we’re hop­ing there is a solid com­mit­ment, from who­ever wins, for re­search and de­vel­op­ment mod­els to con­tinue and to make sure they are based on pro­duc­ing com­mer­cial out­comes.

“We need re­search that helps in­dus­try gen­er­ate money.

“Hav­ing that com­mer­cial nous com­bined with re­search is some­thing we’re al­ways keen to see.

“We need a re­con­fir­ma­tion of that and to have plans to work with re­search and de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions to make sure that is what they’re fo­cussed on.

“State Gov­ern­ment in­fra­struc­ture pro­grams com­bined with Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment sup­port for re­search should fit in beau­ti­fully with the Wim­mera and espe­cially with a project such as the Net­worked Cen­tre of Grains Ex­cel­lence.

“Such progress would de­liver not only the short-term, but long-term vi­a­bil­ity of agri­cul­ture in the re­gion.”

The pro­posed net­work project, born from the Wim­mera South­ern Mallee Re­gional As­sem­bly, is de­signed to ramp up the re­gion’s role in na­tional agri-tech sci­ence and grains re­search, ed­u­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

The State Gov­ern­ment pro­vided $250,000 for a study into the con­cept, which in­volves de­vel­op­ing an in­te­grated sys­tem draw­ing on agri­cul­tural knowhow across the re­gion.

A broad brief is to use the re­gion’s col­lec­tive strength to en­hance and de­velop in­dus­try op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­no­va­tion. This would be based on turn­ing sci­ence into eco­nomic ben­e­fit and re­gional pros­per­ity.

A phys­i­cal an­chor point for an ‘in­no­va­tion clus­ter’ would be at Hor­sham’s Grains In­no­va­tion Park.

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