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Cooperative research delivering for northern Australia

r4a developing northern australia

Australia’s largest Cooperative Research Centre, the CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) continues to deliver for northern Australia, supporting more than $38 million worth of research collaborations since opening in June 2017.

Chair Sheriden Morris said the CRCNA had hit the ground running and worked quickly to bring together industry and researchers to deliver meaningful outcomes for northern Australia in the areas of agriculture and food, including aquaculture, health service delivery and Traditional Owner-led business development.

“Our first open funding call in 2017 attracted more than 115 submissions, of which we funded 13 high-impact research projects, some of which are now in the final stages of their research.

“Each year we continue to attract high-quality, innovative projects which are being driven by industry and supported by some of the nation’s leading researchers,” she said.

To date, the CRCNA has more than 40 projects on its books (pipeline and committed funding) with more than 60 participants conducting research in 20 locations across Australia. Ms Morris said it’s an exciting time to be involved in emerging research.

“Our work provides the good science used to inform decision making, breaking down barriers to development and prioritising areas for further R and D and investment.

“We fund projects on a 1:1 basis, meaning the likelihood of the research being adopted by industry is significantly better than if we were just to put our own cash into a project.

“Our goal is to deliver real, innovative solutions to long-standing barriers and challenges,” she said.

Some of the projects currently being funded by the CRCNA include:

– A collaboration with Townsville Enterprise and the North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils to examine new market and agricultural supply chain opportunities for the region.

– Work with the CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australia, AgForce, Cattle Council of Australia, the NT Cattleman Association, and the Kimberley-Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association to deliver a northern Australian beef situational analysis project.

– A project with the Singapore-based Australian Chamber of Commerce ASEAN to identify new ASEAN market opportunities for five key northern Australian agricultural commodities (beef, avocados, macadamia nuts, soybeans and on-shore aquaculture).

– A project with Perfection Fresh to develop a supply chain to increase the export of Calypso mangoes from the Top End into China.

– A collaboration with Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research and pharmaceutical company Integria to develop a new Traditional Owner agribusiness based on the medicinal qualities of native plants found in northern Australia.

– Work with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (the University of Queensland) and indigenous Gubinge/ Kakadu Plum growers and harvesters across WA and the NT looking at improving supply chains and quality of fruit to market.

– A project to develop a biosecurity plan for the northern Australian prawn industry to help identify and manage potentially devasting diseases in farmed prawns.

In addition to the beef situational analysis study, the CRCNA has funded similar studies for the rice, horticulture, aquaculture, forestry and bush foods sectors.

Most of these studies will deliver their final reports at the end of 2019 and are expected to help inform policy and decision making at the federal Ministerial level.

This article was first published in R4A.

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