Addressing barriers to growth across rural industries

07.06.22

At AgriFutures Australia our vision is to grow the long-term prosperity of Australian rural industries and communities. Our goal is to enable the sector to adopt and deliver meaningful on-ground impact on the big issues and opportunities facing the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries. One of AgriFutures’ primary objectives is “to establish a globally connected, national network of farmers, fishers and foresters to accelerate innovation, practice change and agtech adoption”.

Producer Technology Uptake Program  

AgriFutures Australia works to directly address barriers to growth across our rural industries and help industry and governments respond to opportunities. One program developed to meet the objective of establishing a globally connected, national network of farmers, fishers and foresters to accelerate innovation, practice change and agtech adoption is the Producer Technology Uptake Program.

The Producer Technology Uptake Program (PTUP) was developed to support producers to overcome barriers to technology adoption on-farm or on-boat. The program works with existing producer groups and networks who know and understand their local producers’ needs and who are interested and willing to adopt new technologies but may not know where to start.

The program provides the opportunity for producer groups to design a bespoke project, up to $20,000 value, to overcome their barriers to agtech adoption. Projects focus on delivering activities that are practical and directly related to adoption including capacity building, trialling and demonstrations and peer learning. In addition to project grants, the program offers participating groups a capacity building workshop and access to an online Communities of Practice.

PTUP targets producers that are keen to research and leverage technology but may lack the necessary knowledge, skills, or experience, or haven’t yet adopted technology plans in their business. The national initiative rolls-out program activities over a 12-month period in partnership with successful groups, with the aim of driving peer learning.

AgriFutures Australia Manager, Innovation, Ulicia Raufers said interest in the program was staggering, highlighting the agricultural sector’s enthusiasm to harness the benefits of technology.

“The diversity of applicants exceeded our expectations and we’re thrilled with the response,” said Ms Raufers.

“The program is first and foremost about meeting the needs of local producers,” said Ms Raufers.

“We currently have around 1,300 producers directly participating in the program. We have already seen first-hand the huge leaps they have made in not only adopting technology but also in building capacity and confidence across their region’s producer network to look for new solutions.

“We are really proud to support producers on-the-ground to understand what opportunities exist and to help them overcome common barriers to adoption. Many of the groups have told us that they wouldn’t have taken the leap without the funding support or resources offered through the program.”

Community of Practice

As a component of the Producer Technology Update Program, the team at AgriFutures Australia are very pleased to launch the PTUP Community of Practice (CoP).

Research has shown that most producers are open and willing to engage with technology and whilst the barriers and solutions to increased agtech adoption are widely known, adoption rates continue to lag. Some of the known barriers to producer adoption include: producers being overwhelmed with choice or options, a lack of local support or skills gaps, unclear value proposition or return on investment and a lack of integration of technology across multiple systems.  The CoP seeks to address some of these barriers for producers by bringing together a pool of resources targeting these areas.

The (CoP) is an online platform where producers and producer groups can share their agtech common issues, concerns, topics of interest as well as build a network of likeminded people. In addition to the sharing of concerns and issues relating to agtech, the online platform will provide centralised delivery of practical information, decision-making tools, and resources to support producers to start, build upon and share their technology adoption journey.

“Working directly with producers who are experiencing barriers to technology adoption has been one of the main focusses for the development of the CoP,” said Ms Raufers.

“Ensuring that it is providing relevant and useable resources to participants will be key to its success, and we’re looking forward to keeping the co-design process going as we move into the next stage of the build.”

The CoP will continually undergo development to ensure it is meeting the needs and wants of producers.