Call to collaborate goes out across horticulture industry

Call to collaborate goes out across horticulture industry


Horticulture
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Horticulture needs to share more to make a bigger impact in both Australia and the world, according to speakers at TropAg 2017.

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GET TOGETHER: Researchers and extension staff have relayed a need for more industry cooperation to propel the horticulture industry forward.

GET TOGETHER: Researchers and extension staff have relayed a need for more industry cooperation to propel the horticulture industry forward.

INDUSTRY leaders have been saying it; politicians as well.

Now the research community has echoed the call for greater collaboration in the horticulture sector as a means of driving it forward.

The push for combining resources and sharing knowledge was a reoccurring theme throughout the tropical agriculture conference, TropAg 2017, in Brisbane this month.

The call for more unity and cross-industry research came from both local and international speaker who addressed the 720 delegates that attended.

DuPont Pioneer, USA director for regulatory product strategy, scientific affairs and industry relations, Kevin Diehl.

DuPont Pioneer, USA director for regulatory product strategy, scientific affairs and industry relations, Kevin Diehl.

In his keynote address, DuPont Pioneer, USA director for regulatory product strategy, scientific affairs and industry relations, Kevin Diehl, said collaboration was one of the drivers of technology innovation.

Speaking on genome editing for the betterment of horticulture, he said it needed to go further though when it came to developing a social licence by working with those groups that may oppose such technological advances.

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"One of the things we heard (from discussion groups) is that this technology needs to be available to everybody," he said.

"Sometimes you have to listen. You may have to listen to those who don't agree with you.

"Creating private and public partnerships is also critical."

International call

SEVERAL international speakers who work within third-world nations spoke on the wins they had achieved through connecting farmers together to produce commercial crops, as well as linking first-world research to local farmers.

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture's Vivienne Anthony, Switzerland was a big advocate for increased cooperation between the private and public plant breeding sector.

She said part of the approach to improving a country's access to better farming practices and seeds was getting the private sector to connect with the public sector.

"So often it's about what's going to cost, not how much is it going to give back?" she said.

Head of the newly launched Centre for Horticultural Science at the University of Queensland, Professor Neena Mitter, made mention in her keynote address of the Global Horticulture Initiative which was launched in 2008.

The program has the goal of fostering more efficient and effective partnerships and collective action among stakeholders in horticulture.

Head of the newly launched Centre for Horticultural Science at the University of Queensland, Professor Neena Mitter.

Head of the newly launched Centre for Horticultural Science at the University of Queensland, Professor Neena Mitter.

"We need big initiatives. We need to think outside the box and bring all the players together in one room to provide solutions," Professor Mitter said.

Lab connections

THERE were numerous examples of close-to-home research being shared across state and international borders.

Shared research becomes particularly important in tropical tree crops where the final results of fruit might not be seen until a tree reaches five years of age.

One example was work on the prospects for the genetic improvement of macadamia, where the main project was also crossing into other projects on oil profile variation, phytophthora resistance and rootstocks for dwarfing varieties.

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries citrus plant breeder, Malcolm Smith, summed up his presentation on the success of the mandarin breeding program which will see a new variety launched in January next year.

He said his reply to the question of why such a small breeding program had been able to achieve so much was always the same: "The answer is quite simple - collaboration."

He also advocated for all plant breeding programs to have a pathologist within the team. 

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