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Driving innovation in agriculture

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Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has released a report which aims to set a new strategic vision for rural innovation and help Australia reach $100B in farm production.

The report Agriculture Innovation System Vision was developed by EY. It compared our innovation system to the best in the world to set high level goals which can be built on at ground level.

The report ranks Australia’s rural innovation system as #20 in the world, despite the fact Australia has more researchers than both the US and the Netherlands which both ranked in the top six. Some 80 per cent of the more than 550 stakeholders surveyed favoured reforms to our current system.

“For Agriculture to become a $100 billion industry, we need to keep innovating and convert smart ideas into tools the farm industry can use,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Converting good research into tools and technology helps create careers our country kids can come home to.

“That requires a world-class, modern agricultural innovation system that attracts investment from around the globe.

“While Australia has been renowned for R&D, this report says our rural innovation system is not keeping pace with our competitors.

“This report consulted more than 550 domestic and international stakeholders to ask them what they thought Australia’s future agricultural innovation system should look like.

“Putting the vision into action will require cultural change, collaboration and cooperation, and tackling shared challenges together including sustainability, climate variability and water scarcity.

“Everyone has a role to play: researchers, research and development corporations, industry representatives, producers, processors, investors, government agencies, start-ups, accelerators and incubators.

“The report suggests we need individual regions to contribute more to rural innovation.

“Words and visions are no good without actions. I will be hosting a roundtable of key stakeholders to discuss the next steps.”

The report recommends:

  • Better strategic leadership in research through improving connections, collaboration and culture.
  • Being ready to deal with short-term challenges as well as investing in technology which can transform industries, preferably across multiple commodities.
  • Establishing world-class innovation practices—including disruptive thinking, risk taking and ambition to maximise opportunities from our investments.
  • Empowering regions so new innovations are taken up at regional level; provide regions a greater role in setting national priorities.
  • Establishing a modern platform to share our data and innovations whilst working together on our physical infrastructure and regulatory environment.

This article was first published in Leading Agriculture.

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