OJD goal achievable: Dorber

27 Feb, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE elimination - not containment - of Ovine Johnes Disease from Australia is a goal of the Australian Wool Innovation company.

Not only that, the elimination of foot and mouth disease worldwide is a possibility.

"Why not? AWI managing director Col Dorber asked the rhetorical question of stud breeders at the WA Stud Merino Breeders' annual seminar at the Cottesloe Hotel last Friday.

"With science, technology and fundamental research applied with diligence, it can be eliminated," he said.

"And if Australia is the one to deliver this, we own it and can make a buck or two for farmers by ploughing the returns back into more research."

During his talk it was plain to see that Mr Dorber is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to getting things done for the benefit of woolgrowers.

The AWI was currently funding 200 projects and by the end of March, woolgrowers will have posted to them just what projects are being undertaken.

As it is, plenty of information on what the company is doing is immediately available to woolgrowers with computers if they log on to the AWI website, wool.com.au

Mr Dorber gave examples of several projects that are being undertaken.

In Vietnam, the AWI was helping the Vietnamese convert a man-made fibre plant to a wool processing plant.

"They are using zero wool today, but our goal is to have them using 1000 million kilos annually by the end of 2004," he said.

The AWI is looking at Russia, too.

"We are making tentative steps and studying what we need to do so that Russia instantly wants our wool - not South Africa's, not other countries' wool - when they get back to normal," he said.

The good old pure wool electric blanket was being targeted for improvement as well.

"We want to eliminate dangerous elements from electric wool blankets," Mr Dorber said.

"The new blanket will use smart technology by using new age filaments as substitutes for cords."

"The AWI would own the manufacturer's rights and if the marketing is successful, that's how we'll be able to reduce the woolgrowers' levies," he said.

Another project is turning wool to powder for use in medical and veterinary products.

"I can't say much at this stage, but it's common knowledge that wool can be reconstituted into products that don't even look like wool and can be used in human and animal health," he said.

Another aim was to get in-line wool-testing systems into the Shear Express wool harvesting system which was to be developed in WA.

"We hope to have 278 machines in 10 year's time, harvesting wool off 65pc of the Australian flock. If we can get the in-line testing system into the trucks, it will save you serious money," Mr Dorber said.

The AWI was looking at the big picture when it came to growing wool and the broader picture was sustainability.

"People overseas see a big mob of sheep and dust when they see pictures of Australia."

"The perception is that we've done this to our land and if they get the idea we are destroying our land by growing our products, they won't buy them."

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