YUNA Farm Improvement Group (YFIG) was awarded the Grower Group Alliance (GGA) Excellence Award at this year's GGA conference in Perth last week.
Sponsored by Grain Industry Association of WA (GIWA), GGA strategic advisory group chairman Clancy Michael said the award was initiated by GGA staff and advisory board to acknowledge the success of grower groups in WA.
"The award also recognises the economic and social contribution that grower groups make to the competitiveness of the WA agribusiness sector," Mr Michael said.
"The criteria included new projects the group is working on, how it facilitated adoption and change, business structure, good governance and giving back to the community."
GIWA chairman Richard Williams presented the award and said what started as a "mates club with a bit of R&D on the side" had grown into a successful community organisation.
"The YFIG was established in 1996 to help address agronomic problems of the time, particularly better crop establishment and be a contact point for people or businesses wanting to conduct research trials in the area,"Dr Williams said.
"In 2008 the group started to play a more pivotal role as a community organisation and has excelled in attracting new projects and investments to its region and adopting change practices in relation to challenging and variable seasonal conditions."
Dr Williams also mentioned YIFG's willingness to share information within the group through peer-to-peer learning and with other grower groups throughout the State.
YFIG has 30 members and is self-funded through a community crop program.
It has bought assets including a cool room, pizza oven and bus which is a "social drawcard and an important contribution to increasing farmer productivity and profitability".
"By having good governance and no staff, YFIG has maintained flexibility and embodies the spirit of small groups of farmers who are motivated to collaborate in research and develop extension activities while operating on a shoestring,"Dr Williams said.
YFIG chairman Brady Green said the group was borne out of shrinking number of farmers in the area but also a need to invest in the local community.
Mr Green said the award was a great acknowledgement for their group and their community, particularly in an active year for the group in which delivered many large events including research updates and field days, creating positive outcomes for members.
"We are a very proud little group and after seeing a big exodus of farmers in the area we are now a core group," Mr Green said.
"It is a credit to our committee that they are able to understand what our members want and take on the challenge to provide them with relevant local information and a social outlet.
"We are very transparent and while we work with other businesses such as CSBP, McIntosh & Son and Rabobank, we are not tied to large sponsorship deals."
Mr Green said one of the major achievements for the group was helping fund the new Yuna Community Centre, which opened in September and incorporates tennis courts, playgroup and a child health nurse and offers training events and other activities.