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Prune industry benefits from funding boost

The Australian prune industry is set to benefit from the Australian Government's $5 million Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund.

The Australian Prune Industry Association (APIA) has been awarded $159,000 to invest in the development of its people and culture. 

Announcing the awards, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston said the Australian Government was helping drive industry growth by investing in the next generation of leaders. 

APIA Chairman and Hanwood prune grower Grant Delves, welcomed Minister Ruston’s announcement. “This will help APIA continue its work more efficiently on behalf of growers and stakeholders into the future,” he said.

“Industry leaders met recently with Hort Innovation to form a new strategic plan for the Australian prune industry. We identified three key areas that could help reinvigorate the industry. 

“With limited resources, APIA chose to focus on the first two areas - R&D and promotions. The new funding allows us to invest in the third outcome of building skills, capacity and knowledge.”

Mr Delves said horticulture industries did not always recognise the value of the people of the industry, yet they were a vital component working behind the scenes to drive the industry forward for the benefit of all its members.

“It is prudent that APIA invest time and resources into training programs for its executive members. By developing their leadership capability and capacity APIA executives will be more effective in their role, helping drive leadership and improve communication throughout the industry.”

The government is providing funding to send potential leaders on leadership courses run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

The program also aims to develop up and coming leaders for the industry and APIA has secured funding for a young grower or new participant in the industry to attend off-farm learning programs such as the Masterclass in Horticultural Business.

As one of the youngest growers in the industry in 2010, Ann Furner, was given the opportunity to attend the International Prune Association Congress in South Africa and report her findings. The industry reaped the rewards with her thorough coverage of the congress. She was later appointed Industry Development Officer and continues to communicate the latest research findings from around the world. 

Ms Furner is a strong advocate for visiting prune farms around the world to learn new skills and better ways of doing things. “My husband, Anthony and I have 18 hectares of prunes and we are currently investing in new technology that I heard about while attending the 2015 IPA Congress in Italy,” she said.

“I believe investing in young growers gives them the confidence to participate actively in their industry. 

“Introducing young growers to new ideas, people and different experiences helps to build networks that will help grow their businesses, and in the long-term, the whole industry will benefit,” she said. 

Angas Park Fruit Co Dried Fruit Supply Manager David Swain said the funding would be of tremendous value to the industry. “Members will benefit enormously through aligned programs for developing growers’ skills and talents towards sustainably profitable businesses.,” he said. 

Mr Delves said the industry was looking forward to implementing the approved programs and working closely with members to get the most out of the funds available.

For more information:
Ann Furner
Australian Prune Industry Association 
Tel: +61 0467 681 007

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