The Weekly Advertiser

Wimmera agri-tech science and grains research, education and technology project awaits study

David Jochincke at Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Assembly at Horsham Town Hall.

David Jochincke.

Regional leaders are waiting in anticipation of study results into a project designed to ramp up the region’s role in national agri-tech science and grains research, education and technology.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership members are expecting details from a business case study into a proposed Networked Centre of Grains Excellence within weeks.
The State Government, as part of its 2017-18 State Budget, announced $250,000 for a study into the concept, which involves developing an integrated system that draws on agricultural assets and knowhow from across the Wimmera and southern Mallee.
The project’s overall aim, as part of 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 more accurate description of the proposal might be ‘innovation cluster’, which has a physical anchor point at Horsham’s Grains Innovation Park.
People attending the partnership’s inaugural regional assembly in Horsham in 2016 endorsed the concept, explored further during follow-up workshops.
Partnership chairman David Jochinke said the hope was a final report into a business case revealed the potential for the concept to proceed to a planning stage.
“Funding will be critical for this to work and we’re hoping the final report shows that we can make everything stack up to not only co-ordinate but fund such a bold initiative,” he said.
“The more we can progress agriculture in our region the more it can continue as an economic driver in the region.” Mr Jochinke, also Victorian Farmers Federation president, said to establish the region as a centre of excellence would elevate the region’s already glowing reputation ‘to the next level’.
“We want to be world-recognised for our agricultural research, development and education – in essence, the centre of dryland innovation in the world.
“We can’t afford to rest on any assumptions that we do a great job and always will. We continually have to work on developing agriculture for here and today.”
Mr Jochinke said the contractor responsible for the business case study would report back to a Grains Centre of Excellence working group, which included regional partnership members and key agricultural stakeholders.
“The idea will be to receive and assess the report and if it passes the right criteria – which is hopefully favourable – develop a bid for further backing from the State Government,” he said.
Mr Jochinke said ideally the centre of excellence would be highly adaptive and include working as a conduit in attracting scientific, business and education projects to the region.
“It could be a lot of things and go well beyond being limited to what we know and grow in our region at the moment. It will be all about exploring opportunities.”

The entire January 31, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Jan 31 2018

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