A shared sense of purpose

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Planning grains research, development and extension is a dynamic process that brings together numerous industry stakeholders, as well as the GRDC’s extensive in-house expertise. These professional relationships are the key to developing our research priorities and strategies, and for the subsequent delivery of technology and innovation to the industry.

The principal platform from which GRDC-funded research is driven is through our five-year Strategic Research & Development Plan, the latest being the 2012–17 program launched in August.

The details of the plan have been reported previously and can be viewed on the GRDC website (http://strategicplan2012.grdc.com.au). However, in a departure from convention, the latest plan was not launched in Canberra, but was taken to the regions through a series of stakeholder briefings.

This allowed us to explain directly to our research partners, and also grower group representatives, the challenges and strategies addressed by the plan and also provide information about how we are now designing our investments using the program logic approach.

This is the model used internationally to map everything that needs to occur for a project to meet its targeted outcomes – the research inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes, from immediate to long term.

The stakeholder briefings allowed questions and discussions on how the GRDC, researchers and growers need to communicate and collaborate to meet not just the ongoing production challenges, but also some far-reaching changes to research support and also the supply chain that delivers the harvest to our customers.

The area in Australia that is cropped has been steady on about 20 million hectares for some time, but what gets harvested can vary enormously.

For example, in 2011 we harvested 45 million tonnes while five years earlier it was just 20 million tonnes. That variability is the great, overarching challenge we have to address, along with the globalisation of our supply chain and the increasing demand for consistency of supply and quality.

These challenges have required the GRDC and our partners to become highly targeted and efficient in the research that is funded on behalf of growers.

There is a greater need than ever for everyone in the industry to work together to avoid R&D duplication and this was confirmed by everyone attending the stakeholder meetings.

Importantly, this awareness is also shared by growers, who in our latest Grower Survey showed overwhelming support for the research their levies are helping to fund.

From the 1203 growers surveyed there was a nine percentage point increase to 76 per cent from two years ago in the number of growers saying they are benefiting directly from GRDC research activities or initiatives. Eighty per cent reported they have grown a new winter cereal variety in the past two years. Adoption of new oilseed and pulse varieties over the past two years was 39 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

This is crucial feedback because while we are guided by medium to long-term goals, we remain vigilant to the need for any finetuning. We have in place today an organisational structure that is alert and responsive to the evolving needs of our research and grower partners as the seasons, markets and other production factors constantly change. 

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