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Vision for rural innovation

By Country News

Establishing shared and ambitious priorities and a strategy to optimise opportunities from investment is key to strengthening innovation in agriculture, according to a new report.

The recently released report, compiled by accounting and consultancy firm Ernst and Young, details a strategic vision for rural innovation to help agriculture become a $100billion sector.

The Federal Government has pledged to begin work to implement the report’s recommendations, holding a roundtable with government and industry representatives to discuss the next steps.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the report outlined Australia’s strengths and shortcomings, and provided a vision for the future.

‘‘Participants at the roundtable will take action on the key recommendations from the report,’’ he said.

‘‘This will include concentrating on groundwork in the regions to have more farmers adopt agtech and food tech innovations.

‘‘This could help more farmers use all available agricultural data when they make decisions.’’

The EY report was commissioned in September 2018 to examine whether Australia’s current innovation system is fit for the future.

The report ranked the country’s rural innovation system at 20th in the world, despite the fact Australia has more researchers than both the United States and the Netherlands, which both ranked in the top six.

The roundtable agreed there was a need to improve innovation systems and increase research and development returns.

A recent survey revealed some 80 per cent of the more than 550 stakeholders surveyed favoured reforms to the current system.

‘‘If we keep doing the same thing while our competitors improve, then we’re going backwards,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

‘‘If we want Australia’s agricultural sector to continue to grow, we need to keep innovating and encourage farmers to adopt all available technology and innovation.’’

■The full report is available at: agriculture.gov.au/cultivateaginnovation