AU Supafresh vegetable salad grower Australia

Vegetable growers across Australia are set to benefit from the new A$14.1 VegNET 3.0 programme designed to boost productivity and deliver the latest research and development on-farm.

The national extension program programme is being delivered through Hort Innovation using vegetable industry levies and funds from the Australian government and led by Australia’s peak vegetable industry body Ausveg.

Hort Innovation chief executive Matt Brand said the initiative represents the single largest research and development investment in the vegetable growing sector’s history, and it’s anchored on best-practice and what the industry has identified as priorities.

“This supercharged five-year extension initiative takes a collaborative, local focus, with development officers based in ten growing regions across the country. Each region will receive tailored support that meets local challenges,” Brand said.

“This network of experienced professionals will provide evidence-based tools and information in vital areas such asbiosecurity, pest and disease management, soil and water management, the supply chain and protected cropping.”

Brand said the VegNET initiative complemented Hort Innovation’s dedicated extension arm which was created in 2019 and builds on the foundation and momentum generated through previous VegNET programmes.

Ausveg chief executive Michael Coote said that having a nationally-coordinated VegNET programme will help ensure that growers all around Australia have access to a consistent, industry-focused extension programme that will put their needs first in their efforts to be productive, profitable and more competitive in an ever-increasingly global marketplace.

“VegNET is an important programme for our industry. Australian vegetable growers are world-leaders in the production of high-quality, healthy vegetables and are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and grow more sustainably and develop their businesses,” said Coote.

“Ausveg is well-placed to work with well-trained regional development officers, who are strongly supported, to deliver a high-performing, consistent and efficient VegNET programme that will meet vegetable growers’ needs.”

Coote said a strong extension network that connects growers with local, regional and international experts will be an important element to the industry’s future success.

“While growers are facing significant issues with labour shortages, rising input costs and an increasingly volatile climate, the industry is well-placed to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the research and services on offer in Australia to improve its productivity and increase its value to help the agriculture sector meet its goal of A$100bn by 2030,” Coote said.