$4.38 boon for Grower Group Alliance

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Cally DupeCountryman
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Grower group members from across WA, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan (middle) and Agricultural Region MLC Darren West (far right).
Camera IconGrower group members from across WA, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan (middle) and Agricultural Region MLC Darren West (far right). Credit: Peter Maloney

The State Government has pumped $4.38 million into Grower Group Alliance in a bid to improve farmer-driven, demand-led research and innovation in WA, a move GGA’s boss says will create a “feedback loop” to make sure research “hits the mark with farmers”.

Dozens of representatives from more than 10 grower groups gathered at the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development’s headquarters last Friday night, when WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced the funding boost.

The announcement involves 30 per cent in core funding for GGA, totalling about $1.3 million, and about $3 million in the form of four full-time equivalent DPIRD staff who will work under GGA management and its operating budget, as well as the cost of relocating GGA from Grain Industry Association of WA’s headquarters to DPIRD’s South Perth offices.

A DPIRD spokeswoman said existing DPIRD staff would be assigned to four new roles at GGA, in a bid to improve cohesion between GGA and DPIRD.

GGA chief executive Annabelle Bushell said the initiative provided long-term stability to the GGA to provide valued training, connection and capacity-building services, while also lifting investment to drive innovation and industry change in WA agriculture.

“DPIRD has and continues to be a strong supporter of GGA and the WA grower group network and this new agreement reflects the value that the grower groups deliver to members, the industry and regional economies in WA,” she said.

“The agreement provides financial stability to the GGA to allow the organisation to continue to support grower groups in current activities while also lifting the investment to increase farmer driven, demand-led research and innovation collaborations.”

Ms Bushell said the agreement would focus on three areas — network-wide collaboration, benchmarking and building and technology and innovation.

Ms MacTiernan said the grant represented a “maturation” in the relationship between DPIRD and GGA, and a collaboration council with two GGA representatives and two DPIRD representatives would “work out the strategic direction”.

“We all know the work the grower groups do,” she said. “They are such a vital part of the research sphere in WA and we want to make sure they are strong and thrive, and are in collaboration with the DPIRD.”

South East Premium Wheat Growers Association chief executive Niki Curt welcomed the announcement, saying the group had been involved with the planning.

“We have been very supportive of having a better structure in place to provide a co-ordinated voice for grower groups,” she said.

“I think in this time of increased uncertainty in research funding, combined with more competition for money, it is really important that grower groups stick together ...

“I hope we will see more stability in DPIRD and more co-ordination on Statewide projects that see that really strong extension from the grower groups.”

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