National Banana Day

Australia's first National Banana Day was held on 1 May

An increase in co-investor funding helped Australia’s Hort Innovation increase its footprint last year.

Over the 12-months to 31 December 2019, the grower-owned research and development corporation managed more than 600 active R&D projects. It also invested more than A$122m into the development of new agricultural technology, continuous improvement projects, breeding programmes and integrated disease and pest management.

Around 24 levy industries ran dedicated marketing programmes to drive awareness and consumption in the domestic market, while Hort Innovation’s trade marketing initiative, Taste Australia, continued to showcase fresh Australian produce in key Asian markets.

Hort Innovation CEO, Matt Brand, said the level of funding available from co-investors, particularly through the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative, increased over the course of 2019, with more than A$44m worth of projects now funded through outside sources under strategic levy fund programmes.

“We are proud to have delivered extra value for the sector by securing additional government funding through competitive grants, including those under the Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit programme, the Improved Access to AgVet Chemicals initiative, and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper,” Brand said.

“Out of up to A$2m available across the country’s 15 RDCs [Research and Development Corporations] in 2018/19, Hort Innovation received close to A$930,000, with the funding being used for data generation activities that will ultimately support label registration and minor use permit applications. Through four rounds of funding to date, Hort Innovation was awarded a total of 88 grants of 146 available to the value of some A$4.32m.”

In addition to the external funding, Brand said industry funds for blueberries and nashi pears were formally established in 2019.

Brand also highlighted the staging of the first National Banana Day, which was brought to life on 1 May as part of the Hort Innovation Banana Fund marketing programme.