Mackay Canegrowers board member Micahel Deguara said he supported the creation of Sugar Research Australia because it would create a more unified approach.
Mackay Canegrowers board member Micahel Deguara said he supported the creation of Sugar Research Australia because it would create a more unified approach. Michaela Harlow

New sugar research body now up and running

THE Australian sugarcane industry's new research, development and extension (RD&E) industry-owned company, Sugar Research Australia, started operations today.

The formation of SRA was a key element of the Sugar RD&E Reform package which was undertaken to streamline and modernise the industry's research landscape.

Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA) chairman John Pratt said SRA, with the backing of the Australian Sugar Milling Council and Canegrowers Australia, was focused on delivering the reforms since 2011.

"Through ASA, we have been able to work together as an industry and with government to make SRA a reality," he said.

Funded by a statutory levy - 35 cents a tonne - paid equally by grower and milling businesses, SRA will also attract matching funds from the Commonwealth Government and funds from the Queensland Government.

SRA chairman Paul Wright said the new body would operate with an annual budget of about $34 million, of which approximately $18 million will be available for contestable research. The first round of contestable funded projects is expected to start on January 1 next year.

SRA will continue to carry out in-house research to build the capacity and security of the Australian sugarcane industry in the areas of varietal development, biosecurity and cropping systems.

Mr Wright said SRA was ready to drive research excellence to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of levy payers.

"We are an industry-owned company and as such our industry will work closely with our organisation and help establish our long-term research direction, like never before," he said.

"Through regular consultation we will be able to capture what our levy payers and industry representative bodies feel are important industry priorities for research. Our levy-payers will also be invited and encouraged to become members of our organisation.

"We are committed to delivering good science to address these industry and national RD&E priorities by investing in only the best ideas and actively managing our research to deliver value to our industry."



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