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Irrigation research strategy launched



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MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND ENERGY SIMON CREAN, MP CANBERRA

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IRRIGATION RESEARCH STRATEGY LAUNCHED

Australia's irrigated agriculture sector must develop a peak irrigation organisation to develop a strong national profile, Primary Industries and Energy Minister, Simon Crean, said today.

Launching a National Irrigation Research Strategy in Melbourne, Mr Crean said that the economic importance of the irrigation industry, which produces mainly fruit, vegetables and irrigated dairy, made it imperative that a clear framework of strategic priorities be established.

"A high profile national champion is needed if the irrigation sector is to be heard effectively on research and other matters of strategic concern," he said.

"The strategy spells out this need for the voice of the irrigation industry at a level appropriate to its economic and rural significance.

"I can only encourage the irrigation industry to develop strong institutional arrangements as quickly as possible in order to secure the benefits of having peak body influence in industry and research fora," Mr Crean said.

Irrigated agriculture supports a large proportion of Australia's rural population and contributes more than $4.5 billion, or almost a quarter, of the country's agricultural production each year.

More than 70 per cent of production is processed in some way before it is exported.

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"The irrigation industry is already setting a good example of how value-adding activity can enhance the stability and economic viability of our rural industries," Mr Crean said.

"The it is a dynamic and aggressive industry, actively seeking new markets both domestically and overseas," he said.

"The level of processed exports is an encouraging example for the whole primary industries sector.

"While in output terms, the irrigation sector is fragmented across a range of commodities, its dependence of sound, on-going land and water management practices is absolute," he said.

There is a need to set up strong network and partnership arrangements between all research corporations that affect irrigation, and the National Irrigation Research Strategy is a step in the right direction."

Inquiries; Barbara Sharp, Minister’s Office, (06) 277 7520