DAFWA has lost touch with industry: report

Brad ThompsonCountryman

Farm consultants have lashed out at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA in a report commissioned by the department to help shape the future of the industry.

The report said there was a view among consultants that DAFWA had lost touch.

It also revealed concerns the State Government and DAFWA had failed to manage research and development effectively and did not have the skills to develop markets.

DAFWA's marketing information was described by some consultants as out of date and misleading, while its market intelligence was labelled weak.

"It is believed that DAFWA does not have the marketing and commercial skills required," the report said.

The AEC group report identified five critical issues in the industry - farm debt, access to capital, productivity growth, access to markets and climate change/variability.

The State Government has slashed DAFWA funding during its reign, from $175 million in 2007-08 to $139 million in 2012-13, but research and development, opening up new markets and encouraging foreign investment have been key planks of its vision. Productivity growth had flat-lined over the past 10 years, with most of the 14 consultants interviewed blaming a fragmented and ineffective approach to research.

DAFWA director-general Rob Delane said the department played a key role in opening up export markets but was not directly involved in marketing.

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