Research horizons

Photo of John Lovett

The grains industry needs its leaders — from local community groups, to the top of its state and national representative bodies.

So far, over 70 industry men and women have broadened their leadership skills in technically oriented, first-phase Research Horizons courses, with the support of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)... and over 50 have gone back to complete deeper Policy Maker courses, which introduced them to strategic skills like planning and decision making.

The participants, who have come from every region of Australia's grains industry, have been involved in intensive, three-day training sessions at BRI Australia Limited, in North Ryde, Sydney.

This year, 16 participants are being selected as we go to press — from candidates hailing from East Pingelly (WA) to North Star (NSW), and from Millmerran (Queensland) to Mewyip (Tasmania).

One of the graduates of the Research Horizons courses, held over the past five years, was 26-year-old Andrew Fowler from Esperance, WA, who featured in an article in Ground Cover 33.

He went on to become a WA Nuffield Scholar and travelled to Asia, Europe and the United States to investigate how genetically modified crops would affect Australian graingrowers.

On his return, he argued that it would be important for Australian graingrowers to retain some control of breeding programs and that this could require implementation of a working end-point royalty system that offered a mechanism to capture value for the industry.

He concluded from his research travels that while farmers would have to pay for the new technologies, they would always have a choice... provided they retained strong conventional breeding systems.

The 'Research Horizons for Grain Policy Leaders' courses were developed jointly by the GRDC and BRI. The concept arose from a need to instruct growers who may wish to offer themselves to serve on bodies such as the GRDC’s Regional Panels.

While the GRDC's annual budget for the courses is $120,000, the potential returns from new industry leadership in the $7 billion grains industry are enormous.

Region North