Extra funding sees drought hub expand its focus to a wider field

Email Shannon Verhagen
The South West is set to benefit from a $20 million drought hub to help farmers, businesses and communities as they prepare for and respond to drought.
Camera IconThe South West is set to benefit from a $20 million drought hub to help farmers, businesses and communities as they prepare for and respond to drought.

An extra $2.5 million Federal Government funding boon will allow the State’s inaugural drought hub to expand its focus to not only drought resilience, but agricultural innovation and helping producers “unlock productivity gains”.

Led by growers for growers, the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub — which will be based at Merredin’s Dryland Research Institute — will aim to deliver “farmer-centred drought innovation and adoption practices” over four years.

The funding boost, announced last week, brings the total Federal Government contribution to $10.5m, bolstered by a further $12m co-contributed by more than 40 partners.

It was welcomed as a “fantastic endorsement” by hub-lead Grower Group Alliance, which represents a network of more than 60 grower groups representing about 4000 farm enterprises.

GGA chief executive Niki Curtis said it would help “deliver real impact on ground in the area of agricultural innovation and to deliver regionally focused activities”.

“It is building on the unique GGA network by establishing connections with researchers, technology developers, investors, producers and agribusinesses,” she said.

“Collaboration is key to strengthening impact and increasing adoption.”

The hub will be based on a “hub and spoke” model, with its roots in Merredin, but “regional nodes” operating out of Bunbury, Manjimup, Albany, Katanning, Esperance, Carnarvon, Geraldton and Northam.

Ms Curtis said the presence in so many regions would facilitate collaboration with farming enterprises “from the ground up”.

The SW WA Hub is one of eight across the country funded through the Commonwealth’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.

SW WA Hub director Tom Davidson said the expansion would provide an opportunity to deliver initiatives with greater impact across multiple areas that could help unlock productivity gains for local producers and benefit their communities.

“The timing of the announcement is very positive as the new SW WA Hub team has already embarked on a period of extensive consultation with its multiple partners and stakeholders,” he said.

“The SW WA Hub has more than 50 partners, representing all segments of the supply chain for WA’s southern agricultural growing region, that are providing cash and in-kind co-contributions worth several million dollars.”

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