This week, GrainGrowers’ CEO, Dr Michael Southan, spoke to more than 20 students from Years 7 to 11 at St Raphael’s Catholic School in Cowra NSW about Australian grain.
The students are studying grain as part of the Art 4 Agriculture’s 2017 Archibull challenge. Thirty schools across New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT are participating this year in the competition, now in its sixth year. The aim is to provide a fun and engaging way of connecting communities, and particularly young people, with the people who produce their food and fibre.
He talked to the students about the factors that are important in growing high quality grain to produce the foods Australians love to eat such as bread, biscuits, cakes and pasta. He discussed the importance of including grain in the daily diet for digestive health and to supply a range of important nutrients and vitamins.
He conducted an experiment to show the students the properties of starch and gluten and involved the students in working with flour, producing a dough and learning about the differences between bread and biscuit flours and the diverse uses for wheat.
He also took questions from the floor. One student said she was interested in agriculture as a career and asked about jobs apart from farming. Dr Southan has a PhD in Agriculture and 20 years’ experience as a researcher in grain quality and grain-food processing. He spoke of his love of both research and farming – his family operates a mixed farm in the Cowra area growing livestock, crops and hazelnuts. He challenged the students to help educate their city counterparts about how important agriculture is and how reliant the nation is on it, not just for food but for clothing, and even power (ethanol), too.
The students will post coverage of their activities on a blog site they are constructing as part of the project. Later this year they will tour the Cowra district to visit working grain farms and grain handling facilities.
In addition, the school has taken delivery of a large fibreglass cow which the students will decorate with the supervision of the school’s art department.
The school (both secondary and primary) will be in the running for a range of prizes including Best Cow ($500), Best Blog ($500), Best Animation/Infographic ($500), Champion Archibull ($1000) and National Archibull.
More information: www.archibullprize.com.au; http://www.art4agriculture.com.au/
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In a submission on behalf of the grains industry, GrainGrowers says that Indonesia is currently Australia’s largest export market for wheat, valued at $1.3 billion per annum, however the trade is almost exclusively for flour milling purposes.
“The Indonesian Government is currently not issuing import permits for feed grains, including feed wheat,” said GrainGrowers’ Trade and Economics Manager, Luke Mathews.
“We estimate the total underlying size of the Indonesian feed grain import market at 2-3 million tonnes per annum, equating to a value AUD $550 to $825 million (AUD free value),” Mr Mathews said.
“This is a substantial potential market for Australia, larger than the current Australian-Indonesian live cattle trade which is valued at roughly $540 million.
“In addition, Indonesia’s demand for feed grains is increasing at an estimated 1.1 million tonnes or 7 per cent per year, driven by a rapidly expanding livestock sector,” he said.
“This would be a lucrative market for Australia, favourably located within close proximity, and would complement Australia’s existing milling wheat trade with Indonesia.
“Furthermore, Indonesia’s current restrictions on feed grain imports has resulted in an increase in Indonesian feed grain prices. Artificially high Indonesian feed prices threaten the current expansion of the Indonesian stockfeed manufacturing and livestock production sectors.
“Resolution of this issue would provide win-win outcomes for both Indonesian livestock and Australian grain industries,” he said.
Negotiations to achieve closer economic engagement between Australia and Indonesia through the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership (IA-CEPA) were re-started by Trade Ministers in March last year. Negotiators meet about every three months with the latest negotiations occurring last week. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade asked for submissions from stakeholders on all aspects of trade with Indonesia in order to inform the agenda. GrainGrowers’ submission was prepared following extensive engagement with the wider grains industry.
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