In recent years, the WA Government has made significant new investments in the grains industry, particularly into grains research and development (R&D) and the development of new tools, technologies and infrastructure.
The WA Grains Industry Strategy 2025+ (launched by the Minister at Crop Updates in February 2015) was developed by the Grains Industry Association of Western Australia on behalf of the entire WA grains industry supply chain. It aims to guide investment and initiatives critical to achieving the goal of doubling the value of the WA grains industry by 2025 and beyond. Although this is an ambitious aim, the strategy helps identify the critical needs of the industry and the pathways to achieve them.
Through the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australian (DAFWA), the WA Government will have a role to play in supporting specific areas of the strategy. The document provides eight strategy actions which identify the main drivers the industry believes can deliver the greatest value-add:
- Optimise grain handling and transport infrastructure
- Reduce regulation and red tape
- Position Australia as a preferred and reliable exporter of grain
- Analysis of value adding opportunities
- Provision of essential regional technology infrastructure
- Building farm business resilience
- Skilled industry personnel
- Focused farm productivity research and development
DAFWA has also embarked on a four-year $20 million Boosting Grains Research and Development project funded through Royalties for Regions. A component of the project is to establish a grains research and development model, to deliver high-value targeted agronomic R&D that addresses industry priorities. The new entity will be headquartered at the Innovation Centre being developed at DAFWA's Northam site, with satellite R&D operations at DAFWA’s sites at Geraldton, Merredin and Esperance.
Also funded through Royalties for Regions is the DAFWA lead $10 million high-tech eConnected Grainbelt project which will harness information to assist growers make more informed decisions to optimise crop potential, from information delivered to their smart phone or tablet.
There are several other WA Government investments which have been made since 2010, including the opening of the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) that provides the Australian grains industry with a hub for scientific research, innovation, policy development and rapid access to the latest information.
Other investments have included the opening of the Managed Environment Facility in Merredin also in partnership with the GRDC and the building of New Genes for New Environments facilities at Merredin and Katanning to provide industry with access to the latest in plant biotechnology.
The state’s grains industry is technologically advanced, market-focused, responsive and resilient and its future prospects remain strong. The WA Government, through DAFWA, continues to work with grains industry businesses and organisations, and national and international partners to help capture opportunities to provide a strong and sustainable grains industry in WA.