The University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus has been named as the site for the multimillion-dollar Drought Resilience Adoption Hub in Victoria.
The hub will see researchers and farming groups team up to undertake projects and look at farming practices to help farmers be more resilient to future droughts.
The hub will be funded over the next four years, with $8 million provided by the Federal government and $22.5 million of co-contributions from partners of the hub.
This is one of eight hubs the Federal government is establishing across the country through the Future Drought Fund.
The core site in Victoria will be based in Dookie, north-east of Shepparton, however five ‘node’ sites will be created in Birchip, Mulwala, Warragul, Inverleigh and Mildura led by farming groups in the area.
Co-Director of the Dookie Hub Professor Tim Reeves said they want their work to make a real difference.
He said the model of the hub is unprecedented, universities working with farming groups in regional Victoria to come up with projects to improve drought resilience.
“The real thing we’re wanting here is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, all these groups are working together for the first time ever.”
Professor Reeves said they will begin a formal consultation process across the six sites to identify the priorities for the local communities.
“They will run a process where by anyone that has a good idea, it’ll be able to go on the table and then people will be able to work around that.”
He said the hub isn’t about universities telling farmers what to do.
“It’s not a top-down hub it’s actually the other way around, a grassroots driven hub.”
“And saying ‘that’s a great idea you’ve come up with in Gippsland, we think that could also be really important in the north-east’ and ‘the north-west you’ve got a great idea there we think it could be really important in the south-west’.”
Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the hub will look at how to help all the key agriculture industries in Victoria.
“There’s opportunities for every commodity, every industry associated with agriculture standing to benefit from these funds as they get rolled out.”
“Largely it will be to do with the use of water so that we can be less reliant on water and therefore when the next drought does come along then we’re going to be in a far stronger position to work through it.”
Mr Drum said farmers will have direct access to the information, technology and practices that come out of the hub.
He said the government is looking for results.
“There’s a whole range of talk that goes on in the political world in the agricultural sector there’s a whole range of talk and talk fests.”
“Come up with data, come up with research and do the trials that’s going to create a change in practices.”
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