Central Queensland will be a major hub for agricultural research as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (DAF) Emerald Research Facility would be redeveloped into the Central Queensland Smart Cropping Centre.
“Queensland’s vibrant agriculture industry contributes just over $19 billion to the State’s economy and the Central Queensland Smart Cropping Centre is a major opportunity for the region to play a big part in the sector’s future,” Mr Furner said.
“As part of the 2021 State Budget, the Emerald facility will be reborn as an innovation flagship that brings together Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) in areas such as farming systems, agronomy, crop innovation and plant protection, together with the latest innovations in AgTech and data sciences to deliver a world-class research hub for Queensland’s cropping sector.
“In a significant win for the agriculture industry, opportunities for industry-relevant horticulture research will also be explored.”
Minister Furner said the Emerald facility was ideally suited to its strategically important new role.
“The Emerald property has both the necessary size and suitable soil types for extensive RD&E activities that support the significant grains sector in the Central Queensland region,” he said.
“DAF is currently in discussions with the Central Highlands Regional Council and Central Highlands Development Corporation on alternative options regarding the tenure and future use of the campus and related areas at the Emerald site.
“The Budget has also allocated ongoing funding to maintain the former QATC properties at Emerald and Longreach for future uses.
“Negotiations will continue with interested parties to identify suitable repurposing options for the former Longreach Pastoral College.
“The Palaszczuk Government’s focus is on delivering viable outcomes that benefit both the agriculture industry and, ultimately, the wider community.”
Mr Furner said Queensland’s Plan for Economic Recovery included a strong focus on research and development in the agriculture sector.
“Last year we allocated more than $74 million towards RD&E activities which was supplemented by more than $65 million from industry,” Mr Furner said.
“This money funded important work including the response to the highly invasive fall armyworm, the release of four new strawberry varieties, the release of the StockTake App to help producers to improve land management for reef and drought resilience outcomes, and the identification of five locally developed Panama TR4 resistant Goldfinger banana selections for consumer assessment.
“Our commitment extends to improving skills and education in agriculture with $9.75 million in TAFE training infrastructure for the agriculture sector across Queensland over the next two financial years including in Bowen, Cannonvale, Bundaberg and Toowoomba.
“This month’s budget shows the Palaszczuk Government will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our farmers as we work towards a smart future for our agriculture sector.”