EXTENSION programs for vegetable projects have been assured into the future with a $14.1 million injection.
Ausveg has announced the new VegNET 3.0 program which is a five-year extension initiative taking a collaborative, local focus, with development officers in 10 growing regions across the country, based in:
- New South Wales through the Local Land Services NSW
- Northern Territory through NT Farmers
- Queensland (Bowen-Gumlu and Far North Queensland) through Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association
- Queensland (Bundaberg) through Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers
- Queensland (SEQ including Lockyer Valley, Granite Belt and Darling Downs) through Lockyer Valley Growers
- South Australia through Ausveg SA
- Tasmania through RM Consulting Group
- Victoria (Gippsland) through Food and Fibre Gippsland
- Victoria (Northern, Southern and Western) through Ausveg
- Western Australia through vegetablesWA
The network of professionals will provide evidence-based tools and information in areas such as biosecurity, pest and disease management, soil and water management, the supply chain and protected cropping.
Each region will receive tailored support that meets local challenges.
The vegetable industry levy-funded program is being delivered through Hort Innovation, with funds also from the Australian Government.
Ausveg chief executive officer Michael Coote said having a nationally-coordinated VegNET program will help ensure that growers all around Australia will have access to a consistent, industry-focused extension program that will put their needs first in their efforts to be productive, profitable and more competitive in an ever-increasingly global marketplace.
"VegNET is an important program for our industry," he said.
"Australian vegetable growers are world-leaders in the production of high-quality, healthy vegetables and are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and grow more sustainably and develop their businesses.
"Ausveg is well-placed to work with well-trained regional development officers, who are strongly supported, to deliver a high-performing, consistent and efficient VegNET program that will meet vegetable growers' needs."
Hort Innovation chief executive Matt Brand said the initiative represents the single largest research and development investment in the vegetable growing sector's history, and it's anchored on best-practice and what the industry has identified as priorities.
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He said the VegNET initiative complements Hort Innovation's dedicated extension arm which was created in 2019.
It also builds on the foundation and momentum generated through previous VegNET programs, according to Mr Brand.
Mr Coote said a strong extension network that connects growers with local, regional and international experts will be an important element to the industry's future success.
"While growers are facing significant issues with labour shortages, rising input costs and an increasingly volatile climate, the industry is well-placed to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the research and services on offer in Australia to improve its productivity and increase its value to help the agriculture sector meet its goal of $100 billion by 2030," he said.
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