Hort Innovation has commenced the second phase of VegNET, the vegetable industry extension program, which will fund ten regional development officers located across Australia to support vegetable growers in growing healthy crops and develop successful, profitable businesses. Shaun Lindhe reports.
What is VegNET?
In 2016 Hort Innovation invested in ten regional capacity building projects to effectively transfer R&D information to vegetable growers through regionally-based extension projects and associated coordination and training projects. These projects were contracted to delivery partners based in the ten major vegetable growing regions and were unified under a national brand – VegNET.
The first phase of VegNET finished in early 2020, with the regional development officers (RDOs) delivering R&D awareness and extension activities in their geographical regions.
What is new in Phase Two?
Following grower consultation, the national vegetable extension strategy was developed in late 2019. The next phase of the VegNET project supports the extension approach from this strategy and will result in RDOs who are more focused on the development of regional plans based on targeted stakeholder engagement with growers, researchers and industry members.
RDOs will transition from acting as conduits of technical insight to enablers of knowledge from various sources. This will ensure they are an effective resource to address industry regional challenges. In this approach, extension becomes the key link to bring broad and diverse groups together to find solutions to problems in a strategic and focused way.
What will VegNET RDOs do during Phase Two?
Establish a regional extension reference group
VegNET RDOs will convene a regional reference group that will be responsible for developing a regional extension plan and strategies, as well as an annual review of progress and effectiveness in implementing the plan.
Develop a regional extension plan
With guidance and advice from the regional extension reference group, VegNET RDOs will develop a regional extension plan for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2025. This regional extension plan will be collated into a single national document that will help ensure all growers receive extensive, coordinated extension services. The vegetable industry Strategic Investment Plan will be used as a guide, in assisting in this process.
This plan will include identifying each region’s key priority issues and key regional resources and links that will be critical in ensuring growers receive assistance, as well as information that will help them grow better crops and operate more efficient and profitable businesses.
Implement the regional extension plan using an innovation systems approach
For the full press release, please click here.