UNE took a lead this month as a sponsor of the RiRDC GrowAg event. This gathering of the best and brightest of agriculture’s next generation saw a big focus on new sources and uses of data. Myself, Professor David Lamb, Dr Amanda Doughty and Western Australia farmer Mr Brad Wooldridge presented on “Growing Ideas for a Global Marketplace”, leading a conference session drawing out key visions “Looking back to the future” of Australian agribusiness. My interview, taken directly after the sessions and published by GrowAg on Facebook, gives a further sense of this breakout work which proved to be a valuable exercise into building solutions to current issues in agriculture with the benefit of hypothetical hindsight.

GrowAg2016 was a fantastic event and we are encouraged by the passion and dedication of the delegates, particularly proudly noting some great contributions coming from our own UNE alumni. Kirsty McCormack, Lizzie Star and Dr Jo Newton will be sharing some of their impressions from the 3 days on the blog in the weeks to come – see Kirsty’s thoughts on ‘Fostering Conversation & Innovation‘.

Professor Garry Griffith and I have also been in Adelaide teaching supply chain management, as a precursor to UNE’s 2017 5-week short course program.

We had a number of high profile visitors this month, including a visit from the University of Bonn’s FoodNetCentre as part of the “Chain Failure and Chain Goods in Sustainable Food Chains” research project with UNE Business School. The 2 year project has been underway since January this year. UNE and friends of the Centre were lucky to hear from both Dr Johannes Simons and Professor Gerhard Schiefer on “Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Food Security and Sustainability” respectively.

The compelling discussions that came from these two great seminars were followed by a visit from international food retail consultant David “Dr Food” Hughes, speaking on “Future Food, Real Retail, Going Global and Profit Prizes” – the university was very lucky to host David, an experienced and passionate speaker on the food industry.

All friends of the Centre for Agribusiness are welcome to attend these events, which are advertised on the Centre’s site. These seminars are also recorded where possible – you’re welcome to access these talks via the UNE Business School 2016 Seminar Series page.

We have been adding to the project pipeline, and in the next month will be working on questionnaires for the study of farm-to-fork businesses and agribusiness tertiary education needs.  The second round of surveys on food retail developments in Armidale is now underway.  The international project on improved livestock data collection is now in its last phase and reports will be submitted shortly.

Also this month, we’re excited to let you know that Centre for Agribusiness will take part in an Australia-Argentina higher education/industry collaborative action network.

We continue to make progress with the SMART Region Incubator, with Matthew Wysel joining the team this month to develop the incubator’s data platform. We’re pleased to share that initial consultation for the refurbishment of the on-campus space is well & truly underway. The space has been designed to encourage a flow of creativity and powerful ideas from our startups & entrepreneurs, and will boast individual office spaces as well as an open meeting space to swap ideas, brainstorm and troubleshoot. We will be sharing photos of our progress via our Instagram account – I encourage you to follow us for updates.

You can keep up with our news via the Centre for Agribusiness blog – we’re excited to have upcoming feature articles on our PhD projects to share with you over the month of October – we’ll be hearing about Nikki Zhang’s study on the valuation of information in red meat value chains as her PhD is due for confirmation by UNE, as well as system dynamics modelling of value chains being undertaken by candidate Kanar Dizyee, who is very close to submission of his thesis. In addition, this month also saw shortlisting for the Centre’s first Postdoctoral Fellow and applications are still open for new PhD scholarships.

While there has been rain at home, this month’s news has featured global developments: massive concentration in agrichemicals (via ABC News), strange dairy news (via ABC News), and collaboration on grains post-harvest research (via FoodProcessing.com.au).

October 2016 brings us fully into Spring, and I wish you all the best for business in the bush.

Derek Baker

Derek Baker
Director, UNE Centre for Agribusiness