Editorial by John Lovett: Changing role of women in grains

Pictured (L to R) at the Women in Grain Day: Deborah Thiele of Loxton, SA, National Coordinator of Partners in Grain: John Lovett. Managing Director, GRDC; Nicki Berrisford of Horsham, Victoria, South-East Australian Coordinator of Parthners in Grain: and Janelle Watson of Tichbourn, NSW


If enthusiasm, commitment to a common purpose and a high level of intellectual rigour count for anything — and I believe they do — then the 'Women in Grain’ conference day, 25 July, at Perth’s Hotel Rendezvous was a roaring success.

With 150 women discussing their changing role in the grains industry, on what was the first day of a very successful three-day Women in Agriculture and Resource Management (WARM) Conference, views were, naturally, diverse and inspiring.

Many had taken leave from farm duties to share in the forum, which was proudly supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), The GRDC is committed to enriching the roles of women in agriculture.

With the increasing complexity of the farm business operating environment and the diversity of skills required, increasing the skills of women will assist in the information-gathering process and enable them to participate more fully in the business, including decision making.

Very appropriately, in the same week as a GRDC-supported Precision Farming Forum was held in Perth, young Morawa graingrower Rosie Yewers showed us all how, with precise attention to detail and a clear goal, precision farming, using GPS, can be implemented on a broadacre scale.

In partnership with her brother James and with technological support from Rob Keenan of Rinex, she has, among other things, used variable-rate technology for fertiliser applications, all with the aim of creating a more productive farm unit where inputs are measured dedicated to areas of greatest potential output.

Hearing this young woman's story of persistence and thirst for knowledge in what is a ground-breaking area was truly inspirational.

I was delighted to be invited to officially launch 'Partners in Grain', a national program for women and youth in the grains industry, at the ‘Women in Grain" conference.

Funded by graingrowers and the Federal Government, the GRDC has an obvious mandate to develop and extend knowledge, and build the capacity of women growers to help support the industry.

Research indicates, clearly, that many women want to lift their participation in the farm business but don’t believe they have the skills. They therefore, unfortunately, lack the confidence to participate.

The GRDC believes up-skilling women and young people will add to productivity, prosperity and sustainability of grain farms and will have flow-on benefits to the whole industry and regional communities.

I warmly commend the organisers and supporters of ‘Women in Grain’ for taking time out from their very hectic business and personal schedules to share their experiences and, along the way, to inspire the grains industry right across the board. All of us at the GRDC are confident that 'Partners in Grain’, as it evolves, will build on this momentum.