Welcome to the AgriFutures Australia year in review for 2019-20. Once again, our producers and rural industries who are renowned for their resilience and responsiveness have stepped up to the mark to sustain our nation in a year like no other.
Each year our farmers and primary producers are tested with enormous challenges and in 2019-20 they have faced drought, fires, flooding rains and a worldwide pandemic. Together they have overcome challenges into opportunities and thanks to their dedication and determination, they have delivered food and fibre to Australia and the world.
2020 has seen city and country become one in their gratitude and respect for our producers as Minister Littleproud gave reassurance that we produce enough food for 75 million people ensuring Australia has the greatest food security in the world.
The 13 levied industries that make up our AgriFutures Australia network, each contribute significantly to sustaining our nation in diverse ways; this diversity enables their levies to contribute to world class research, development, and extension (RD&E) constantly adding value to not only the contributing industries but to the entire agriculture sector. The objectives of the team at AgriFutures Australia including the Board is to deliver over and above our RD&E commitments, to listen to and strengthen our industries. To achieve this, we have been engaging through discussions at a panel, industry, and board level.
This past year we have introduced additional capacity building opportunities with the new Levied Industries Capacity Building Program. Launched in 2019, it has provided a range of opportunities from the Australian Institute Company of Directors course, travel bursaries and other mentoring programs.
We also held the inaugural AgriFutures Summit in July 2019. This was a gathering of over 120 stakeholders from across the organisation including the Levied Industries Panel Chairs, a number of Advisory Panels, the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award State/Territory Winners and our Horizon Scholars.
This inclusive model has enabled AgriFutures Australia to support and grow the “next gen” leaders in our rural industries and communities.
evokeAG. 2020 again delivered added benefits to levy payers and their industries. Doubling the size of Startup Alley in 2020 and focusing on attracting both investors and farmers to the event, resulted in a platform for local and international innovators to showcase ideas in front of a global audience. In addition to subsidising attendance from within our levied industries, one of the objectives of evokeAG. 2020 was to enable more farmers to view the innovation, establish contacts and hear the global messages. By offering our primary producers a special priced ticket we doubled the farmers in the room to over 300 of the 1478 registered participants.
An example of the added value evokeAG. has delivered to our levy payers is the tea tree oil industry engaging in a project based on blockchain type technology. AgriFutures Australia funded research with Geora and the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) and this continues to provide traceability along the full length of the supply chain from farm gate to consumer product. This is a prime example of world-class innovation.
AgriFutures’ growAG. initiative will enable us to support the growth of Australian rural innovation and showcase it to the world. It will provide a collaborative platform across the sector for Australian Agriculture Research, development and investment, an international gateway to connect and promote innovation and commercialisation opportunities both nationally and internationally in order to deliver benefits to the producer and farmgate. We thank Minister Littleproud for the opportunity to lead this exciting and transformational project.
The cross pollination of growAG., evokeAG. Network and the evokeAG. event will bring even more value to our levy payers, agricultural industries, the innovation system and will supercharge Australian and Asia Pacific’s agriculture to the world.
Throughout the COVID-19 uncertainty our People and Leadership space, including the Rural Women’s Award and our Horizon Scholarship program has stayed relevant and resilient by seeking out opportunities to adapt and go virtual. AgriFutures Australia is working with the women in the 2020 cohort to roll out a program that ensures their projects flourish over coming months. Our Horizon Scholars are also enjoying new online opportunities.
The AgriFutures Australia Board, management and staff are immensely proud of our levy payers, levied industries, and industry panels for the many achievements outlined in this Annual Report. As Chair I am blessed to have not only engaged and committed Board members to whom I pay immense respect for their dedication, I also have an entire team at AgriFutures Australia under the outstanding leadership of the Managing Director. This team always put the success of our industries first and foremost, my sincere appreciation to each of you. In a constantly changing world, we all remain committed to collaboration and innovation with the industries, producers and growers driving and shaping Australian agriculture now and into the future.