WESTERN Australia now has a dedicated tertiary level horticulture program.
Edith Cowan University (ECU) is set to launch WA's only university horticulture course in 2022.
The new major in ECU's Bachelor of Science course has been developed by internationally recognised horticulture expert Professor Zora Singh who joined the university this year.
Professor Singh will bring his expertise and innovative research background to improve the quality of horticulture exports particularly in minimising produce loss and improving shelf-life of fruits and vegetables.
"There are enormous opportunities for horticulturalists with the practical expertise and training in an industry which is on the cusp of a boom," Professor Singh said.
"The WA Government has set a goal to double food production in the state by 2025 and our graduates will be well-placed to join an industry which is already crying out for workers with the know-how and skills."
Currently horticulture contributes around $2.6 billion to the WA economy however recent agreements with Indonesia as well as free trade agreements being negotiated with India, the European Union and the United Kingdom are likely to provide a further boost.
Professor Singh said improving efficiencies in the local horticulture industry is key to growing the international export market for WA produce.
"The teaching and research we'll be undertaking at ECU is working toward improving horticulture production, sustainability, market access and profitability of the industry," he said.
"Food waste is a hot topic right now and we know up to 44 per cent of fresh produce is spoiled before it reaches consumers so it's our job to minimise that wastage."
Professor Singh has a strong track record in that area having won numerous awards for his research developing ethylene blockers which stops fruit from ripening thereby extending the shelf life of fresh produce.
He said he believes ECU existing research capacity in the areas of proteomics and nutrition will provide avenues for research collaboration.
He said he was also interested in hearing from industry groups to partner with for research opportunities and hosting students for work integrated learning opportunities.
Applications are now open for Semester 1, 2022.
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