THE Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) will consider a broader spectrum of investment opportunities and be more aggressive in regards to its investments following the business’ realignment, according to GRDC chairman John Woods.
Mr Woods made the comments in Perth recently as the GRDC board and executive visited the State for its board meeting in Geraldton.
The three-day visit included on-farm grower meetings at Ogilvie, Nabawa and Tenindewa and a tour of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management, which is a co-investment between Curtin University and the GRDC.
“GRDC has redefined its purpose and is about creating enduring profitability for the Australian grain growers – profitability is the way we view things and the prism by which we will access things, not just productivity,” Mr Woods said.
“GRDC will consider more things going forward than in the past and our appetite is broadening for investment opportunities for Australian grain growers.”
He said the informal meetings with growers provided valuable feedback on GRDC’s investments, structure and research and development focus.
While the dry start to the WA cropping season was at the top of growers’ minds, other issues raised included a desire for the GRDC to increase its investment in transformational opportunities, poor digital connectivity in WA and the need for a legume suited to WA’s conditions.
“Growers feel that GRDC is probably not taking as much risk as it should and that the GRDC should be reaching more and looking at more transformation investments as part of our portfolio to deliver a step change for growers,” he said.
“With these investments growers understand that there is a risk but they would like us to do more and that was very clear with the growers we met.”
Mr Woods said the Geraldton port zone growers voiced a desire for increased GRDC investment to deliver better adapted and more profitable legumes suited to WA conditions, including adaptations of legumes already grown in other Australian cropping regions.
“There is a lot of pressure on WA farming systems from diseases, weeds and pests and growers would love to have access to improved legumes to act as a break crop and that are profitable in their own right,” he said.
Internet and phone connectivity was another prominent topic raised by the Geraldton port zone growers and Mr Woods said he was conscious of the business limitations this imposed on them.
“Connectivity is a massive issue for regional WA and it’s not just about phone coverage – there is so much opportunity that could be embraced by our growers if we had good connectivity.
“The GRDC, through its Western Regional Panel, will remain engaged on this issue and is happy to consider opportunities to assist other industry players in addressing this issue.”
Following the organisation’s realignment earlier this year, Mr Woods said there were greater opportunities for WA as it looked to shift Canberra-based resources into the north, south and west regions.
“GRDC is on a decentralisation process and with the realignment of the business it means that there is going to be more roles in WA, not less,” he said.
He said GRDC would be consulting with industry partners and growers in the coming months as the organisation began work on its five-year investment strategy.
“We are keen for people to participate in our strategic development and feedback we received during the visit to WA this month will be taken into account when the GRDC starts shaping its next five-year strategic plan,” he said.