Following a year-long review and consultation process, two Australian industry body giants; the Australia Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) and CANEGROWERS, launched a reform package last week.
Australia’s sugarcane industry has a production value of over A$1.5bn, with 32-35m tonnes of cane produced a year equating to nearly 5m tonnes of sugar.
Over 80% of the country’s sugarcane is sold to the export market and the investment plan will seek to underpin a strong future for the industry.
Both the ASMC and CANEGROWERS said that the re-structuring and stronger commitments will keep Australia on the “front foot in the competitive export market”.
The changes will see the industry’s contribution to funding of research and development reach A$21m by 2013, more than doubling the amount from 2005.
One of the targets is to improve efficiency gains by 20% and improve the industry’s delivery service.
There will be a consolidation of resources into three research and delivery centres to achieve increased efficiency.
The initiative will also see an industry-owned, overarching research body created called ‘Sugar Research Australia’ to secure increased government funding and streamline industry functions.
It will be supported by a statutory levy, shared between growers and millers who will be able to elect directors and vote on the level of the levy.
The reform package will also focus on increasing information access to industry participants, with events and knowledge packages. It will also transfer the one-on-one advisory service currently undertaken by the BSES officers to local consultants and businesses.
To ensure the new services are of a sufficient standard, the Sugar Advisory Services Development Program will launch later this year and run throughout 2012.
Both associations stated that in the long-term, the implemented changes aim to drive increased profitability for growers, millers and the Australian industry.
The associations’ have said that the integrated package of reforms set out to work with what they consider a modern and positive industry.
Steve Greenwood, CEO of CANEGROWERS, said: “We need a savvy, forward-thinking approach to research, development and extension.”
The implementation of the reforms will be rolled out over the next two years in stages.