Rural innovation ‘off the pace’

By Country News

Better strategic leadership, investment in technology and more empowered regions are needed to make agriculture a $100billion industry according to a new report.

Compiled by consultancy company Ernst and Young, the Agriculture Innovation System Vision report said the industry needed to embrace disruptive thinking, risk taking and ambition to maximise opportunities and not be put off by short-term challenges.

Australia currently has more researchers than both the United States and the Netherlands, but Australia’s rural innovation system is 20th in the world, while the US and Netherlands rank in the top six, the report found.

About 80 per cent of the more than 550 stakeholders surveyed favoured reforms to our current system.

‘‘Components of the agricultural innovation system will need to adapt, such as leadership, investment structures, governance, funding and culture, to be compatible with the rapidly changing world and increasingly technologically-enabled environment,’’ the report found.

‘‘Looking to the future, there is opportunity for Australian agricultural innovation to modernise and achieve greater and more diverse outcomes from investment in innovation, to adopt a more co-ordinated approach to respond to future opportunities, threats and trends and to better position Australia as a globally relevant agricultural innovation system.’’

Threats will continue to occur in a larger, more complex and faster manner, the report said, with cohesion, strategic priorities and a co-ordinated and cross-domain approach increasingly important, the report said.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Australia was falling behind.

‘‘While Australia has been renowned for R&D (research and development), this report says our rural innovation system is not keeping pace with our competitors,’’ he said.

‘‘Putting the vision into action will require cultural change, collaboration and co-operation, and tackling shared challenges together including sustainability, climate variability and water scarcity.

‘‘Everyone has a role to play: researchers, research and development corporations, industry representatives, producers, processors, investors, government agencies, start-ups, accelerators and incubators.’’