FOLLOWING THE success of both the GRDC pilot project in Victoria 'Women in Grains' and the 'Families in Agriculture' project, a network of women from across Australia made a successful proposal to the GRDC which has seen the 'National Partners in Grain' project get off the ground.
"The level of enthusiasm from farming women, and agribusiness in particular, has been terrific," remarked National Coordinator Debbie Thiele, a graingrower from Loxton in the Murray Mallee of SA.
'National Partners in Grain' aims:
- to develop a nationally coordinated strategic approach to enhance the active involvement of women and young people in the grains industry by increasing their technical knowledge and skills
- to provide a supportive communitybased enVironment working towards reducing real and perceived barriers to participation<
- to enable greater and more confident participation in performance benchmarking, financial management and economic information programs.
These goals are being put into practice through farmer-based state reference groups, with part-time coordinators facilitating workshop activities (see contact list).
So far, a wide variety of activities have included: 'Crop monitoring for women in wheat'; grain marketing for beginners and advanced; crop walks; 'Paddock Action Manager' (PAM); BRI Australia Wheat Quality workshops; using grain web sites to greatest advantage; crop health workshops; trial site visits; and risk management and machinery replacement workshops, to name a few.
Other planned activities include: benchmarking the farming business; insect identification field days, share farming arrangements and their management, the 'Effective Company Directors Course'; financial analysis for your farm business; personal development, including handling stress; Climate Risk Management workshops; field day participation; and other events and opportunities for the
active involvement of women and young people.
"Those involved in the project are an enthusiastic and highly motivated group of people," National Reference Group Chairman Merna Curnow said, as she signalled the start to the first full year of the 'National Partners in Grain' project in 2002.
Both Ms Curnow and Ms Thiele are grower representatives on their respective state farmer organisations' Grains Councils.
Ms Thiele is enthusiastic about the support from other groups alongside the GRDC. "We hope to use all the resources at our disposal and develop greater linkages through farmer organisations, TOPCROP and other agronomic programs, through the National 'Farmbis' program for education and training opportunities and through potential partnerships with agribusiness.
"We already have sponsorship support at the national level from A WB Ltd and at a state level in NSW and Vic from the Grain Growers Association, with other organisations providing 'in kind' support and still more interest ~rom other potential sponsors.
"The support of state-based departments of Agriculture and Resource Management in states such as SA and WA is also an indication of the widespread partnership sources that the project is encouraging."
Contacts for National Partners in Grain - see p6.