LOCAL KNOWLEDGE KEY TO DRIVING INNOVATION IN HORTICULTURE

18 May 2022


The Southern Forests Food Council have been appointed Regional Node Lead for the Manjimup zone as part of the federally funded South-West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, and are now seeking 10 horticulture producers from the region to join the initiative.


The region’s horticulture industry is now poised to benefit with local access to a WA-wide knowledge network that will facilitate innovation, research, and adoption within the local agriculture industry.

The Regional Node Leads were appointed by the South West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (SW WA Hub), hosted by Grower Group Alliance (GGA), as a key component of the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund. They are tasked with providing guidance on drought and climate resilience, and shaping transformational measures for farming systems, their industries and communities.


Regional Node Leads will act as a local knowledge broker, using their established networks to link local industry with innovation or research on drought and climate resilience and coordinate SW WA Hub activities. Each Node Lead will work closely with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and wider hub consortium partners to identify priority issues for the drought and climate resilience of local farming systems and communities.


“This initiative will help the SW WA Hub, to deliver on a unique and potentially catalytic opportunity to drive investment from the ground up and to be at the forefront of innovation and adoption,” SW WA Hub Director Mark Holland said.


“Regional Node Leads will help the SW WA Hub to identify priorities and co-design activities that reflect the needs of producers and their communities,” said Mark.


The Southern Forests Food Council (SFFC) has nearly 10 years’ experience in the WA horticulture industry, a sector that is not often associated with drought resilience.


“Much of the research and extension in this space has been aimed at broadacre cropping and grazing, but changes in rainfall and the improving efficiency of perennial horticulture systems is a key focus for producers in this region. The SFFC can provide valuable insight from the horticulture sector as part of this initiative.” said Jennifer Riseley, SFFC appointed Regional Node Leader.


“The spoke and wheel structure of the SW WA Hub aims to overcome siloing and duplication of research with cross-industry communication and extension”


Delving further into the topic Jennifer also stated that “Identifying local priorities to drive ground up innovation and investment for the horticulture industry is a crucial part of this program. Fostering communication across the sector will be key to the success of the initiative.”


The SFFC is well placed to enhance collaboration in the space, with close links to local businesses and state-wide contacts among research organisations and government.

“We know producers embrace risk and value innovation, but they also look for evidence that their efforts will pay off before making an investment,” said Jennifer.


The SW WA Hub Consortium consists of more than 50 partners, all with a track record of practical solutions and collaboration in the agriculture sector. The Southern Forests Food Council look forward to sharing that knowledge network with the local industry.


The next step for the SFFC is to establish a network of interested horticulture businesses who would like to be involved in node activities, or advise where research priorities should lie.


The Southern Forests Food Council are now looking for at least 10 producers who are interested in new research and adoption to provide feedback on where their priorities are for the industry and have an ongoing involvement with the Hub.


“We don’t want the process to be too onerous, as everyone has a business to run, but would like a group who is willing to share information about where they have made changes or provide feedback further up the line,” said Jennifer.


If you’re a producer interested in guiding drought and climate resilient research priorities of the South West horticulture industry into the future, please get in touch. You don’t need to be an SFFC member or from the Southern Forests and Valleys region to be involved.

Contacts: Please contact Jennifer Riseley on 9772 4180 or marketing@southernforestsfood.com Website: www.southernforestsfood.com Facebook: Genuinely Southern Forests Instagram: @genuinelysouthernforests Southern Forests Food Council: The Southern Forests Food Council was founded in 2010 by a group of passionate local producers who recognised that the wealth and abundance of produce grown in the region made it perfect for major food production and agri-tourism. Its role was formalised in 2012 after receiving a $5 million investment under the State Government’s Royalties for Regions initiative. The investment is part of a $7 million Royalties for Regions allocation to the Shire of Manjimup for its Agricultural Expansion Project. The SFFC received further funding in 2018 of $1.5 million to support the Council’s on-going activities in developing economic opportunities for the region. The Food Council is committed to unifying the area’s world-class and diverse producers to strengthen the region’s economy, attract investment and export opportunities, promote regional pride, and create sustainable jobs. It represents local producers, culinary and agri-tourism operators who live and work in what is WA’s premier food bowl, aiming to ultimately establish the Southern Forests as an internationally-recognised agricultural region and culinary tourism destination. The Southern Forests produces over 50 different types of fruits and vegetables, truffles and boutique produce, dairy, sheep, pork and cattle farms, as well as award-winning wineries and exceptional culinary experiences. The Southern Forests region is heavily invested in agriculture, with $230 million of agricultural production coming from the region.


About the Hub:

The South-West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (SW WA Hub) is harnessing the power of collaboration to enhance drought resilient practices and accelerate innovation and adoption. More information is available on the Hub webpage.


About the Grower Group Alliance:

The Grower Group Alliance (GGA) is a growing state-wide network of more than 70 local grower groups, with a collective membership base exceeding 4000 WA farm enterprises, operating across all sectors of the agricultural industry, and at all different levels of scale and purpose. More information is available on the GGA website.


About the Future Drought Fund:

The $5 billion Future Drought Fund (FDF) is providing secure, continuous funding for drought resilience initiatives and will help Australian farmers and communities prepare for the impacts of drought. More information is available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website


Photo: The first meeting of Regional Rode Leaders on 11 May 2022.