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9 Grower groups/Partners in Grain focus Panels drivinG r&d By Bernie reppel n New GRDC board member and prominent international grains researcher, Professor Tim Reeves, says the GRDC’s panel system has been the single biggest force for successful grains research and development in Australia. The industry/ government collaboration through the GRDC is the envy of grains industries around the world, he says. Professor Reeves should know, because he is an internationally recognised consultant in the fields of agricultural research, science policy and sustainability. From 1995 to 2002 he was director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico. Professor Reeves recently told an audience of grains researchers in Queensland that grains industry research and development in Australia was working so well because it was owned and driven by farmers, with independent grower groups providing impartial and reliable information and advice relevant to industry and community needs. But he warned there were weaknesses too, including a lack of global connectivity, particularly with countries like China, India and Brazil, which were now at the cutting edge of grains research and development. Professor Reeves says the public sector in Australia is reinventing itself and the industry still has to decide what the public and private sectors do best in the R&D process. He says global connectivity is the only way to progress in modern research; the days of an individual scientist making a significant breakthrough while working alone were gone. There is a strong need to build further alliances and partnerships; organisations which might be competitors in one field could be partners in research. While the ongoing challenge is to get the economic and environmental balance right, he says Australia is advantaged by having the fastest growing economies in the world as its next-door neighbours. Professor Reeves says the biggest challenge of all is to stay competitive. The rest of the world is moving ahead fast, and three countries investing significantly in agricultural research are China, India and Brazil. He says China and India will eventually be competitors as well as customers, while Brazil is a direct competitor. family circle of learninG By reBecca Thyer n Training for partners – typically spouses and family members – in grains enterprises will be offered in a new, more flexible format following research into training needs by Queensland’s Partners in Grain (PinG) network. From next year it will trial flexible ‘learning circles’, comprising about five participants and a facilitator. The circles will offer learning without the geographical and time constraints that often make training courses unattractive to spouses and family members. Less emphasis will be placed on face-to-face teaching and more on a flexible program outside traditional teaching times, using information technology. Queensland PinG coordinator John Rochecouste says individual training needs will be discussed with the ‘learning circle’ group and a facilitator. The facilitator will then gather relevant information and customise an appropriate approach, be it attending a course, mentoring, being directed to particular resources or holding informal workshops. The training review follows a survey of Queensland grain business partners to obtain a snapshot of their educational needs. “As most farming enterprises rely on partners for operational and business management, targeting training in the most effective way is crucial,” Mr Rochecouste says. But with no research results available on the existing skill levels, PinG surveyed 40 partners working in grain enterprises. The survey, by Jillian Condell, a consultant in adult and vocational education, found that although most business management is handled by partners, few have any formal training in this area. Additionally, business management training is often not tailored to farming enterprises and tends to be held at unsuitable times or in faraway locations. Mr Rochecouste says that although most partners have little or no formal training in business administration and marketing, increasing competence in these areas could help to significantly lift an enterprise’s profitability. ÆGRDC Research Code PIN00003 For more information: Jean-Francois (John) Rochecouste, fax 07 4635 0824, firstname.lastname@example.org december 2005/January 2006 Ground cover AFS Licence: 247279 The journey from the header to the bank is now more secure The journey from the header to the bank is now more secure CP2171VICGC1 These days I'm talking to ABB. Growing your crop is risky enough, so when it comes to selling, find out why these days more and more growers are talking to ABB Grain. With 65 years experience, an ASX listing and turnover of $1.3 billion, growers can rest assured they have entrusted their grain to one of Australia's most successful and secure agribusinesses. For more information contact your local ABB representatives or in NSW, QLD, SA or VIC call the ABB Grain Marketing Help Line on 1800 018 205 or in WA call 1800 000 623. www.abb.com.au AFS Licence: 247279 Professor Tim Reeves: global connectivity is the only way to progress in modern research.
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