Through the Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC), the Australian, state and Northern Territory governments, rural R&D corporations, CSIRO, and universities are jointly developing the National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Framework to encourage greater collaboration and promote continuous improvement in the investment of RD&E resources nationally.
On 6 November 2009, PIMC endorsed the Framework including the overarching statement of intent. To date PIMC has endorsed the following RD&E strategies:
- 14 sectoral strategies: beef, cotton, dairy, fishing and aquaculture, forestry, grains, horticulture, new and emerging industries, pork, poultry, sheep meat, sugar, wine, and wool.
- 4 cross–sectoral strategies: animal welfare, biofuels and bioenergy, climate change and water use in Australian agriculture.
Another 4 cross–sectoral strategies are underway. The animal biosecurity, food and nutrition, and plant biosecurity strategies are expected to be completed by the end of 2012, whereas the soils cross–sectoral strategy was commissioned in early 2012 and is scheduled to be completed by late 2013.
Copies of the strategies can be downloaded from NPIRDEF, the official framework website.
Why have a Framework
Research, development and extension (RD&E) in primary industries is central to increasing industry productivity and ensuring sustainability. Across Australia, RD&E is funded and carried out by a complex and diverse web of research providers and investors with strong interconnections. The 15 rural R&D corporations (RDCs) are an integral component of this web, alongside the Australian, state and Northern Territory governments, CSIRO and universities.
Australia’s primary industries cannot afford a fragmented or duplicative RD&E system if they are to continue to improve their productivity and sustainability. Australia’s approximately $1.6 billion annual RD&E investment in primary industries needs to be focused, used efficiently, effectively and collaboratively. The Framework provides the structure and institutional arrangements needed to strengthen national research capability and better address cross–sectoral and sectoral research and development.
In April 2005 PIMC recognised these challenges and endorsed the concept of ‘National R with Regional D&E’. The concept recognises that basic and strategic research (R) can be provided from a distance, with regional adaptive development (D) and local extension (E) required, improving the uptake of innovation by industry.
In 2006 PIMC then agreed to a set of principles to facilitate further cooperation between agencies and industry for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the national RD&E capability. These principles emphasise cooperation, information sharing, maintaining funding, access to capability and reporting and are the basis for the statement of intent between the parties to the Framework.
What the Framework looks like
The Framework spans 14 primary industry sectors (including new and emerging industries) and 8 cross–sectoral ones.
To build the Framework each industry sector and cross–sectoral issue is exploring its RD&E capacity, research priorities, emerging needs and opportunities. This involves consulting with relevant collaborators (including universities) in each sector to identify resource requirements and implementation issues.
Who is building the Framework
The Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC), via its RD&E and Biotechnology Committee (formerly R&D subcommittee), is working closely with the industry peak bodies and the 15 RDCs to progress the development of the Framework. Each of the 14 primary industry and eight cross–industry sectoral strategies have been allocated a lead agency, which is responsible for delivering the strategies through collaborating with jurisdictions.
The former PISC R&D Subcommittee comprises representation from:
- New South Wales Government
- Northern Territory Government
- Queensland Government
- South Australia Government
- Tasmania Government
- Victoria Government
- Western Australia Government
- Australian Government
- Council of Rural RDCs
- Dairy Australia
- Grains Research & Development Corporation
- Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation
- Australian Council of the Deans of Agriculture
The membership of the RD&E and Biotechnology Committee is to be confirmed. This committee was established as part of the new structural arrangements for the Primary Industries Standing Committee and its subcommittees
What we can expect from the Framework
When the Framework is fully implemented, it is expected:
- Research capability will become more collaborative, specialised, have larger critical mass and will be less fragmented across the nation. Efficiency and effectiveness of RD&E will be markedly improved overall, although some additional costs could be incurred providing national linkages and to support delivery of regional development and local extension.
- Agencies will retain and build capability in fields strategically important to their jurisdictions and industries. At the same time, it is expected agencies will collaborate with others to provide for a more comprehensive national research capability.
- State jurisdictions will decide what their research role is in specific sectors, whereby:
- “Major priority” means that a jurisdiction will undertake a lead national role by providing significant R&D effort in all or most disciplines of a particular industry. For example, Victoria will have a major priority focus on the dairy industry.
- “Support” means that a jurisdiction will undertake some R&D, but others will be providing the major effort. For example, New South Wales will undertake some local development of research findings for the pork industry, whereas national research will be led from South Australia.
- “Link” means that a jurisdiction will carry out little or no research in the field, but will access information and resources from other agencies. For example, Tasmania will access information on beef research undertaken elsewhere.
- The national research capability will be an integral component of a wider innovation agenda, supporting development and extension. To encourage rapid uptake of new technologies, research developed in one location would be available nationally for the whole industry.
Work is underway on implementation and operational issues such as access to research and intellectual property protection, filling capability gaps, overcoming free riding and providing extension services.
By ensuring the substantial resources invested by government and industry in research are managed cooperatively, a more efficient, effective and comprehensive capability will be possible.
What success will look like
There will be a more coordinated and collaborative approach to rural RD&E, and national research capability will be focused, used efficiently and effectively to achieve the best outcome and uptake by primary industries.