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    Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    $6.5 million Mareeba Agriscience Hub officially opened

    Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    $6.5 million Mareeba Agriscience Hub officially opened

    Today's opening of the Mareeba Agriscience Hub paves the way for North Queensland to become an agribusiness powerhouse.

    Minister for Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies Tim Mulherin said the new $6.5 million state government centre in Peters Street, Mareeba will be one of Queensland’s leading agri-science research, training and service hubs for the primary industries sector.

    “The opening of the Mareeba Agriscience Hub will establish the Atherton Tablelands as a national leader in tropical agricultural science and training,” he said.

    “The Hub will be home to 29 staff from the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) and the Australian Agricultural College Corporation (AACC) who will deliver extension, education and training.

    “It is built on local research, development and education capacity bringing together some of the top scientists in north Queensland.

    “Staff will have expertise in entomology, biosecurity, plant breeding, plant pathology, molecular biology and soil and water ecology.

    “The Hub also has glasshouses to support work in postharvest physiology, plant physiology, animal science and plant breeding.

    “One laboratory is specifically for training and for use as an incident response centre in the event of pest outbreaks.

    “This is the only plant bacteriology lab in north Queensland where scientists are working on bacterial diseases of both fruit and vegetable crops to develop new strategies for disease management and control.”

    Member for Cook Jason O’Brien said the Hub provides the necessary infrastructure needed for North Queensland to attract and retain outstanding scientific staff.

    “Local producers and other members of the community will also be able to meet face to face with Government experts to discuss their needs and issues,” Mr O’Brien said

    “The opening of this Agriscience Hub is not only great for Mareeba but will benefit producers in the whole region.

    “North Queensland could potentially become the nation’s agribusiness powerhouse due largely to water availability and security and tropical innovation prospects, the opening of the Hub today brings that potential one step closer,” he said.

    Other work at the new laboratory will include:

    • developing new forest industries through breeding and selection of superior trees
    • support for the peanut and maize breeding programs
    • diagnostic support for Biosecurity Queensland
    • developing new varieties of mango and papaya
    • improve flowering and yield of lychees
    • reducing the environmental impact of papaya farming practices.

    The Mareeba hub is complemented by research field work being undertaken at the Walkamin Research Facility where up to $2 million in infrastructure upgrade is in the process of being delivered.

    AACC executive director Tony Rayner said accredited AACC staff working out of the new hub would provide relevant agricultural training, focusing on higher level qualifications delivery, particularly in conservation and land management.

    “This new training facility will further the careers of young people wanting to move into the agricultural industry and those already working in the rural sector who want to upgrade their skills,” Mr Rayner said.

    “It will be the leading vocational environmental centre in the state, boasting instructors who are industry leaders in production agriculture, automotive and rural business management.

    “Over the last financial year, AACC Mareeba issued 100 qualifications and 975 Statements of Attainment to graduates.

    “The diverse, industry-relevant training we deliver is resulting in an increase in enrolments for a large range of courses and skills.”

    Mr Rayner said the AACC’s alliance with Malanda, Mareeba, Herberton and Kuranda high schools had provided training to 106 school students in the past year.

    “AACC has been the preferred training provider at the Mareeba Trade Training Centre for the Certificate II in Engineering and Certificate II in Rural Operations.

    “Indigenous training projects continue to increase as AACC and ongoing on-country projects are undertaken toincrease the skills level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as entry level training for full-time and part-time employment.

    “In 2010-2011, the Mareeba AACC has delivered training to 22 locations across far north Queensland, including Bamaga, Weipa, Cooktown, Hopevale, Pompuraaw, and Marpoon in the north, Mt Isa to the west and to Charters Towers and Cardwell in the south.”

    Media: 3239 6530