Development on wish list
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.