Why is the Agribusiness Innovation Fund needed?
The WA agrifood sector has not kept pace with the export and productivity growth enjoyed by many of its competitors over the past decade. The current situation must be addressed to ensure WA exports remain competitive and can grow their share and value in international markets.
In order to remain competitive, our agrifood sector needs to rapidly increase efficiency and productivity growth across the whole supply chain. The Agribusiness Innovation Fund will stimulate innovation, scale and improved efficiency through targeted R&D investment along the whole supply chain.
What are the key aims?
The project aims to generate long-term agricultural productivity improvements needed for profitability and growth through:
- Targeted, industry-driven R&D on key productivity drivers
- Strategic development of industry’s current and prospective capability through the supply chain; and
- Access to new markets, particularly the premium and high value Asian markets.
How will this be achieved?
These aims will be achieved through a combination of market, product, industry and investment-focused research to inform the delivery of grants programs to industry consortia, grower groups, supply chain participants and research providers.
Grower group research and development grants
Grower group research and development (R&D) grants are available to WA-based grower groups and not-for-profit, farmer-driven organisations to stimulate research and innovation along supply and value chains so our agricultural exports remain competitive, and grow their share and value in international markets.
The program awarded almost $11.2 million to 21 grower groups across WA. For more information refer to Grower group R&D grants program successful recipients from Round 1 and the Grower Group R&D grants program successful recipients from Round 2.
The Grower Group R&D grants program has now closed.
Pathways to competitiveness report
The Pathways to Competitiveness report looks at key drivers, practices and mechanisms that characterise international competitiveness and draws lessons from peer regions that have transformed relevant industry sectors over a relatively short time period. For example, dairy activity in New Mexico, pork industry growth in Chile and agrifood growth in Peru all highlight what is possible.
Industry Grants for International Competitiveness
Pathways to competitiveness will inform investment in the Industry Grants for International Competitiveness (IGIC) which focuses on industries, businesses and products most likely to contribute to repositioning WA in premium, high-value markets.
The IGIC Grants have now closed.
Grower Group Alliance (GGA) transformation
Funds to build capacity and transform the GGA into an economic development body with a strong supply chain focus and increased membership and linkage across the agrifood sector.
Horticulture Research Recovery Fund
In 2017, an incursion of the Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) severely affected the horticultural industry, principally the potato industry. As a result, Eastern States markets were closed to WA potato exports.
The Horticulture Research Recovery Fund (HRRF) was announced on 6 July 2017 with $1.5 million to support growers to collaborate, access new international and domestic markets and improve the international competitiveness of the WA potato industry. To achieve this the HRRF will invest in projects capable of driving growth and competitiveness at enterprise, value chain level or whole of industry level.
The HRRF has the following components.
- The Potato Industry Assistance Grants (PIAG) program will invest over $750 000 and provide individual grants to improve industries international competitiveness and deliver industry-wide benefits.
- The HRRF will support the Western Australian Seed Potato Certification Scheme ($100 000). The Seed Potato Certification Scheme is an industry funded scheme that underpins healthy seed for all potato production within the State and provides an accreditation that is mandatory for seed potato access to most international markets.
- Develop a report to support the establishment of a Collaborative Export Entity in WA horticultural products ($50 000). Collaboration between growers and their supply chain partners enables competitiveness, access to new capabilities, technology and markets that an individual grower could not achieve on their own.
- Projects to support national and international market access for host and carrier crops. This will generally take the form of generating data sets that contribute to achievement of market access.
WA Tropical Agriculture Research Institute ($2m)
The Western Australian Tropical Agriculture Research Institute (WATARI) is a new initiative with a mission to deliver high quality research to catalyse transformational growth and underpin sustainable agriculture and food development in Western Australia’s Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. WATARI can commence operations as a not for profit company, wholly-owned by the State via the Western Australian Agriculture Authority and be established so it can partner with research and industry partners connected by a shared commitment to its mission and agreed goals. It will deliver the following components:
- Primary research themes across a broad range of aquaculture, beef and plant industries to drive substantial economic growth, enhance agriculture’s environmental credentials and ensure positive social and community impact.
- A business case to establish WATARI headquarters. The headquarters will provide a focal point for researchers and funders looking to invest in the north.
Improved water use efficiency in irrigated agriculture ($2m)
An RD&E program focused on fostering adoption of ‘smart’ agricultural technologies, aimed mainly at water use efficiency and nutrients in the horticulture and irrigated agriculture industries. The Water Use Efficiency program will have two key components:
- Reinvigorate the Carnarvon Research Facility - Carnarvon irrigated agriculture will increase the growers’ level of skill in order to gain efficiencies from previous research and extend it to the next generation of growers. The approach will be to improve the facility, build the capacity of staff and industry and deliver consistent purposeful engagement, in partnership with the Gascoyne Development Commission.
- Efficiencies in irrigated horticulture in Geraldton - the focus for irrigated agriculture in Geraldton will be continuing to develop an effective and engaged grower group and upskilling supporting industries, and grower business skills development.
Export Competitiveness Grants (ECG) ($1m)
The ‘Pathways to Competitiveness’ report commissioned by the ASRDF in 2016 identified that the WA agrifood sector is underachieving in transforming its ingredients into products sold direct to consumers through retail and food-service channels compared to other high income developed countries. The report also identified solutions and activities for firms, industry and Government and generated key insights and lessons towards achieving international competitiveness.
The Export Competitiveness grant program will fund projects that help build the WA agrifood industry’s collective capacity for world class production and primary/wholesale/value-adding processing for export.
Hemp Industry Development ($0.463m)
Following recent Commonwealth approval for hemp for human consumption the State Government is promoting the Western Australian industrial hemp industry by investing in competitiveness, expansion and growth opportunities. The project will help develop communication strategies and industry networks and support R&D, production and supply chain activities that builds on the existing work that has already been undertaken with industry.
To achieve this the project will invest the following components:
- Assign a development officer ($128 000) over two years to identify the research and production needs of producers and the investment needs of the industry. The key deliverable will be to clarify priorities with industry, guide its development and manage the hemp projects.
- National Hemp Conference 2020 Sponsorship ($20 000) - the Industrial Hemp Grants Scheme will provide individual grants for research into new varieties suitable for WA conditions and opportunities for processing industrial hemp ($300 000). Grants can also be used for the development of major infrastructure and to explore market opportunities for industrial hemp products as informed by an industry wide needs survey. Projects will deliver industry-wide benefits.
Project management, governance, communication and promotion
Effective governance and administration of the Fund along with communication and promotion to ensure effective stakeholder engagement, take-up of grants and adoption of outputs.
In addition, the Office of Science (OSS) will be responsible for the Science and Agribusiness Connect Program ($3.41 million) which will be managed separately via an MOU between OSS and the Department of Regional Development.
At the end of the project, it is expected agrifood businesses will be better equipped to:
- improve productivity
- intensify and expand operations
- access capital
- pursue new market opportunities
- make more informed investment decisions
- increase jobs in regional Western Australia.