GRDC - Ground Cover Issue 58 - RDCs showcase the value of innovation

Photo of GRDC chairman Terry Enright, program manager Katrina Spencer, and young chef of the year finalist Colin Barker

[Photo (left) by Rebecca Thyer: The GRDC chairman Terry Enright, program manager Katrina Spencer and young chef of the year finalist Colin Barker discuss Colin"s quince and polenta upside-down cake]

GRDC chairman Terry Enright and new grain products manager Katrina Spencer tucked into quince and polenta upside-down cake with spiced brulee ice-cream, created by Colin Barker, a finalist in the Lexus Young Chef of the Year Awards.

Mr Barker, from the Sydney restaurant Cruise, was one of several young chefs who created dishes at the "World"s Best Food and Fibre Forum & Dinner" at Parliament House, Canberra, to showcase the importance of innovation that has made the nation"s primary producers among the world"s best.

All of Australia"s 14 rural research and development corporations (RDC), including the GRDC, were represented at the forum.

The event highlighted the value of the RDC model - an industry-driven and market-responsive approach that is funded jointly by industry and the Australian Government.

Mr Enright said that research funded through the GRDC had over the past 10 years enabled the grains industry to double crop production on the same landmass: "We are twice as good as we were a decade ago."

National Farmers Federation president Peter Corish said the R & D model had served Australian farmers well, but he also highlighted the challenges ahead: "We need it to do a lot of things - allow us to compete with China, identify, access and capitalise on high access markets, help with the environment and maintain profits."

However, he said that getting the message out to farmers remained a challenge: "The top 30 to 40 per cent of farmers will always try new things. The challenge is to reach out to middle-of-the-road producers.

"There needs to be more effective ways to get the uptake of R & D. It"s extremely difficult, but extremely important.

"I"m passionate about the future, but one of the most important things that will underpin this is R & D and adopting the technologies that flow from it."

Some $464 million is now invested each year through the 14 rural RDCs.