Hello to all of you joining us for your first newsletter, and welcome back to our regular readers – I’m pleased to share with you our regular update from the Centre for Agribusiness.

Substantial work is underway at the Centre, and the last few months have seen a number of visitors, and preparatory work on proposals for future research and funding for the Centre.

In the last month we interviewed over 30 applicants for the Centre’s Study Tour and IFAMA Agribusiness Case Study Competition, which in 2018 will take place in Argentina.  IFAMA study tour organisers Sally Strelitz, Stuart Mounter and I were delighted with the quality and enthusiasm of applicants, and we are sure of a strong showing to follow up our performances last year in Florida. 

We also saw some much-appreciated rain in our region.

In the last week the Centre hosted DPI Director General Scott Hansen, and Acting Deputy Director General, DPI Agriculture Kate Lorimer-Ward as part of a showcase organised by DPI’s Robyn Hean.  The showcase featured a number of the Centre’s projects, including the Regional Economic Development work of Shawn Leu, Masood Azeem and Ed Lefley, and studies on consumer behaviour by Masood Azeem, Stuart Mounter, Rene Villano and Garry Griffith.  It also featured pioneering work in biosecurity by Susie Hester and Oscar Cacho – take a look at the Project Pipeline for updates.

Scott then presented the 2017 Jack Makeham Memorial Lecture for friends of AARES New England Branch, UNE Business School, the UNE SMART Region Incubator and the Centre. You can catch up with Scott’s lecture in full, as well as his conversation with UNE Agriculture afterwards via the blog.

Early in October the Centre hosted Austrade Commissioner to Indonesia Dr Matthew Durban, and NSW Trade & Investment’s Dr Rob Harrison.  We presented several of the Centre’s work programmes, particularly the work on regional competitive advantage by Shawn Leu and Masood Azeem.

We are continuing our work on policy toward rural infrastructure, and will soon complete a study for Moree and Gwydir Shires on new approaches to Benefit-Cost Analysis of upgrades to rural roads. David Hadley, consultant David Anderson and I have travelled to Moree to discuss the analytic approaches and the data with local infrastructure managers. This work, funded by Agrifutures, will be finished around on 31 October 2017.

Also on infrastructure, a number of us attended meetings in Uralla and Armidale associated with the NSW Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) project.  Ideas for new infrastructure investments are being discussed with local stakeholders, and projects are being identified.


David Hadley has completed a report on future prospects of large scale controlled environment horticulture in NSW.  Planning and communications are underway with stakeholders to prepare for an Industry Round Table on Controlled Environment Horticulture, to be held early in 2018. Read more and access the full report here.

Garry Griffith’s collaborative project on supply chain policy with the University of Bonn continues, and an agribusiness seminar was held with German partners in Adelaide at late September.  Emilio Morales and I spoke at this event , and Garry Griffith and I taught on the University of Adelaide’s postgraduate course in Value Chain Analysis during the week.
We got three major data collection initiatives underway this week;

  • A survey of post-farm gate organic operators (as part of UNE’s contribution to Australian Organics’ Annual Report on markets)
  • A survey of red meat industry participants to measure the value of supply chain information on animal and meat quality (as part of Nikki Zhang’s PhD studies)
  • A survey of Tertiary Education in Agribusiness, seeking the views and experiences of past and present students, universities and VET providers, commercial firms, and industry bodies.

A further survey is in the works, namely a study of farm-to-fork agribusiness operations which targets the development of on-line management tools.  

Following substantial preparatory work, the Centre now manages three agribusiness-related journals, and these are available via the Centre’s website. Journal Editors Vic Wright, Garry Griffith, Brad Plunkett and Bill Malcom have come on board this initiative, and the on-line management is being handled by the UNE Business School’s Amanda Rose.

Matthew Wysel has continued to develop the information-sharing mechanism for the UNE SMART Region Incubator, and this system (known as BANKS) is now in operation. We are also pleased to officially welcome Matthew who has started his PhD on Data Communities. 

Funding proposals underway or concluded include

  • Australian Trade and Market Access (ATMAC), which looks at drivers of competitiveness for NSW, focused on internationally collaborative supply chain strategies.
  • Australian Awards (DFAT funded) tender for delivery of agribusiness training to be run jointly by Australian and African partners.
  • Agrifutures-funded work on technology adoption and freight costs in the food industries

In association with UNE School of Environmental and Rural Science, we are preparing a funding proposal now for training in Agribusiness. I’m trying to think outside the box on this, including how we can leverage the incubator, work on local government, IFAMA-related training.

I encourage followers of the Centre for Agribusiness to continue to follow our website and particularly the “Project Pipeline” which offers opportunities for collaboration.

Long-term friend of the Centre, Airlie Trescowthick, is set to launch her new agriculture platform alongside The Farm Table on 9 November at 1pm AEDT.  We wish Airlie all the best and direct you all to the launch invitation here. 

I wish success to all in business off the bitumen.

Derek Baker

UNE Centre for Agribusiness