The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has met with more than 150 of these young agriculture industry leaders over the past six months at a series of events held in every state and territory. The Regional Innovation Conversations series, which followed on from the 2016 GrowAg summit, has brought these young people together to discuss issues affecting the agriculture industry, the trends shaping its future and how to optimise for growth.
RIRDC Managing Director Mr John Harvey said the Regional Innovation Conversations have demonstrated that there is enormous talent and enthusiasm in the next generation of agriculture leaders.
“While their main focus is on building their own businesses and delivering valuable services and information to the agriculture sector, these 150 young leaders are helping to define the future of a rapidly changing and growing industry.
“I was energised by their enthusiasm, impressed at their determination to succeed and admired their practical, ‘just get it done’ attitude. They are dynamic, entrepreneurial and commercially savvy.”
Over the course of its Regional Innovation Conversation series RIRDC identified a number of key themes that resonated again and again with the audience of young agriculture leaders:
Technology is driving rapid industry change and has tremendous potential to increase productivity and efficiency, but there is a risk of Australia being left behind if the capital is not available to invest in technology.
Lack of internet connectivity remains a barrier to technology adoption in regional areas, but people are finding their own solutions often bypassing traditional service providers and carriers.
Entrepreneurship and investment in innovation are the new normal, particularly in the agtech and support services sector.
Skills diversity and more people working in agriculture are critical to future success and industry growth.
Agriculture’s image is shifting, it’s no longer just about the traditional farmer, and this trend needs to continue to showcase industry diversity, attract people with the required skills and capitalise on international business opportunities.
Social media is the main source of information gathering and connecting for young leaders in agriculture, but there is also a critical need for them to build real networks and create their own supportive culture of innovation, practice change and risk taking.
Mr Harvey said, “It became clear to us over the course of the events that these young people are succeeding and shaping the future of the industry.
“The question we are now faced with is how do we support this cohort of young leaders and help them to keep pace with the skills, research, information and technology they will need to keep Australian agriculture thriving?”