THE first of eight national drought research and resilience hubs has been set up for northern NSW and southern Queensland.
Based out of Toowoomba and run by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) with a new arm just added at Armidale's University of New England (UNE), the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub will drive the uptake of new technologies and practices, and build collaboration with stakeholders across the region.
The hub will bring together organisations such as Beanstalk AgTech, Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers, and the Red Cross to engage directly with farmers, traditional owners, agribusinesses to co-design drought preparedness activities for the whole region.
The hub includes five nodes in Longreach, Roma and Stanthorpe, in Queensland, and Lismore, Narrabri and now Armidale in NSW, strategically located to represent a range of agricultural industries, and will be a shopfront with people on the ground.
The additional $2 million investment for the Armidale node comes on top of the $8 million already announced for this Hub, and was recommended by the Selection Advisory Panel due to the value that UNE can bring to this complex region with multiple industries through local expertise and capability.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said that USQ together with UNE would oversee the co-design and delivery of innovative projects and practices aimed at boosting drought resilience and agricultural productivity.
"The University of New England node will be able to link to the Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales Hub partners, bringing together farmers, farming systems groups, local researchers, industry and other stakeholders to take on the challenges of drought," Mr Joyce said.
"Through the Hub, they will design and deliver innovative tools and strategies for Southern Queensland and Northern NSW farmers and their communities, boosting drought resilience and future proofing our regional communities.
"The University of New England node will include a shopfront for farmers to access innovative technologies and practices that enable them to be more prepared and resilient to drought."
Agriculture and Drought Minister David Littleproud said the hubs would become flagship precincts for agricultural innovation.
"Drought is a natural part of the Australian landscape and these hubs will play a critical role in helping farmers and agricultural communities to be better prepared," Mr Littleproud said.
The remaining seven hubs will be located in southern NSW, Far North Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the Top End and south-west WA.
The Hubs are the centrepiece of the Commonwealth's $86 million Future Drought Fund Research and Adoption Program, which in turn is funded by the government's $5-billion Future Drought Fund.
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