Article – Northern Australia 'vision' less likely without research focus

15 May 2014
Charlie McKillop
ABC Rural

PHOTO: Professor Robert Henry in the field at the Mareeba Wetlands.

The vision of a northern Australian ‘food bowl’ is still possible but only if the Federal Government matches its rhetoric with research funding, according to researchers.

Funding for the next round of new Co-operative Research Centres has been scrapped, with the Federal Government cutting $80 million from the program over the next four years.
But researchers, such as Professor Robert Henry from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, say there are other ways of increasing research capacity and maintaining a focus on northern Australia.
Professor Henry has been leading a team looking into the potential for commercial production of wild rice varieties in Queensland’s far north.
“I think it is important that there’s a continued emphasis on research and development, especially for northern Australia,” he said.
“My view is that it’s easy to underestimate the potential of northern Australia for agricultural production. It is important that we are able to provide that technical input into new efforts to produce food in the north.”
Professor Henry says that while it was certainly not good news to hear of plans to scrap CRCs, he hopes there’s an alternative way to get the support they need.
“We certainly won’t be giving up on trying to find the resources to drive an agricultural research agenda in the north,” he said.

Courtesy of ABC Rural