Palaszczuk Government funding advances agricultural industry research

Published Thursday, 15 September, 2016 at 03:05 PM


Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
The Honourable Leanne Donaldson

Queensland agriculture will get a shot in the arm with the Palaszczuk Government’s funding of five major research projects as part of the first round of the $15 million Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the projects were aimed at boosting the state’s credentials as a major innovator in agriculture, with a focus on giving the state the edge in national and overseas markets.

“We’re investing over $3 million in these agricultural industry research projects, designed to reduce costs and increase efficiency in our beef industry, improve the productivity of our prawn farming, use biotechnology to produce new animal feed supplements, and value-add to our growing strength in tropical pulse cultivation,” Ms Enoch said.

Ms Enoch said a project led by Professor Sagadevan Mundree, Director of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at QUT, had been awarded $750,000 to look at developing new nutritionally-rich foods based on tropical pulses.

Tropical pulses include lentils, chickpeas and mung beans.

“The market for tropical pulses is huge. Queensland is already one of the largest exporters of chickpeas and mung beans in the world,” Ms Enoch said.

“Professor Mundree and his team will look to how we can broaden the market for our tropical pulse industry. In particular, they’ll look at using pulses to develop low-allergen, gluten-free food products that are tasty and highly nutritious.

“If they can pull this off, the benefits for the industry, and the agricultural sector as a whole, will be enormous.”

The project’s industry partner is pulse exporter Blue Ribbon Roasting Trading Pty Ltd and Blue Ribbon Grains & Pulse.

Ms Enoch said the QUT research project was one of 15 projects to be funded this year as part of the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

The Innovation Partnerships program, part of the $405 million Advance Queensland initiative, aims to support collaborative research and development projects involving both research organisations and industry to address industry and society issues in priority areas such as agriculture, engineering, climate change, clean energy, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson said investing in new technology and innovation within the sector was a vital part of keeping Queensland competitive in global markets.

“The projects funded through the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program have the potential to deliver significant competitive outcomes for our state’s agricultural sector,” Ms Donaldson said.

“It also provides Queensland with opportunities to develop new export opportunities using our natural advantages.”

Ms Enoch said the program sets out to address one of the big issues that consistently hampers the successful commercialisation of research in Australia: getting industry and the research sector to combine forces to develop solutions to industry and society needs.

“We’re investing $9.65 million in these 15 projects, with the successful recipients and their project partners contributing a further $15 million,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Innovation Partnerships program will boost productivity growth and the competitiveness of existing industries, accelerate the development of emerging industries, and increase the speed and scale of translation of our science and research into new products, services and business models that can help drive economic and jobs growth in Queensland.”

Other agricultural research related projects to receive funding include:

  • A QUT project, led by Associate Professor Robert Speight has been awarded $894,704. The project will establish Australia’s first biomanufacturing platform to develop animal feed supplements. Industry partners include Ridley AgriProducts Pty Ltd, Kennedy Creek Lime Pty Ltd, and Brisbane agribiotech success story Bioproton Pty Ltd;
  • A CSIRO project, led by Dr Laercio Porto-Neto, has been approved for funding of $750,000 to develop genomic selection methodologies to allow cost effective and sustainable improvements of feed efficiency for the first time in the Northern Australian beef cattle. Genomic selection is used to genotype a “reference” population of animals which are measured for a wide range of economically important traits. This research project could provide significant savings to the beef industry through reducing feedlot costs. Industry partners include the Australian Agricultural Company and the North Australian Pastoral Company;
  • Another CSIRO project, this time led by Dr Melony Sellars, has been approved for funding of $650,000. The project will look at improving the annual productivity of the Queensland Black Tiger prawn industry. The project’s industry partners are Australian Prawn Farms Pty Ltd, Pacific Reef Fisheries and Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture; and
  • A University of Queensland project led by Professor Murray Mitchell has received $250,000 to identify biomarkers that will allow the identification of tick resistant cattle. Ticks are a big problem to the cattle industry, with the hides of severely infested animals unsaleable. Cattle do build a degree of resistance to ticks over time, but some animals are better at this than others. Resistance to ticks appears to be intergenerational, but how resistance is achieved is not well known. This research project sets out to increase our knowledge, with major implications for the beef industry.The project’s industry partner is the Nindooinbah Pastoral Company.

Media contact: Daniel Lato 0438 830 201