WA’s InterGrain to lead national oat breeding program

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Jenne BrammerCountryman
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Oats in WA.
Camera IconOats in WA. Credit: GRDC

WA farmers are set to capture a bigger slice of the growing global market demand for the oats superfood, with the Australian centre for breeding shifting from South Australia to Perth.

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan, along with the GRDC and Agrifutures Australia, revealed this week Australia’s oat breeding program would be led by cereal breeder InterGrain at Bibra Lake.

The organisations are chipping in $11.5m investment over five years for the project aimed at finding improved varieties for milling and hay oats.

Ms MacTiernan said WA produces more than half of Australia’s oats, but for almost 20 years the national oat breeding program has been based in South Australia.

However, following a competitive tender process, InterGrain, jointly owned by the State Government and GRDC, was selected to lead the program as it transitions to a full commercial model by 2025.

Intergrain has identified priority activities in the short, medium and longer-term, to build a best practice oat breeding program and deliver benefits to hay and milling oat growers.

InterGrain chief executive Tresslyn Walmsley said her group was excited to take the baton.

“InterGrain brings new technologies to the program, such as technology to enable genomic oat breeding at a very low cost,” she said.

“We are committed to continuing to work with industry to ensure national breeding targets are prioritised, on-farm productivity is increased, and market share, domestically and globally, continues to grow.”

GRDC managing director Anthony Williams said the outcome was a good example of how growers, through their Research Development Corporations, would be rewarded for upfront risk and investment.

“As significant cereal breeding expertise and capacity lies in the private sector, it’s fantastic that the oats industry has developed to the point where commercial breeding investment has been attracted,” said Mr Williams.

“This is how commercialisation should work between RDCs and industry. The future looks very bright for oats in the growing ‘super food’ market.”

Ms MacTiernan said research program would support the McGowan Government’s $10.1 million election commitment towards a Processed Oats Industry Growth Partnership, to double the value of the State’s oat industry.

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