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TAS Country : June 7th 2012
16 Friday, Jun News Paddock to plate course ROGER HANSON INDUSTRY and academia have joined forces to build future Tasmanian agricultural leaders. Applications are open for the prestige Woolworths Agricultural Business Scholarship Program. Entries for the ''paddock to plate'' course close on Friday, June 15. Five people from Tasmania took part in the course last year including this year's Fruitgrower of the Year award winner Richard Clark, from the Westerway Raspberry Farm in the Derwent Valley. Mr Clark said he applied because he was interested in the the paddock-to-plate process. ''Running a fresh raspberry business, it is really valuable to understand the markets and distributing process that our berries pass through before reaching the consumer,'' Mr Clark said. Highlights of the course for him included the site visits and the chance to meet other young people committed to agriculture. Lecture topics on the 12-day course, which runs from Monday, August 27, to Friday, September 7, include business strategy and planning, the agricultural value chain, leadership skills, business finance, supply chain management, doing business with retailers, the role of government and sustainability issues. Building on the strengths of the program's three partners -- Woolworths, the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) and the University of Western Sydney (UWS) -- the course offers a holistic view of the agricultural industry from paddock to plate with an insider's view of Australia's largest food chain. Successful candidates' course fees, accommodation and air fares are covered by the three partners. Anyone between the ages of 20 and 30, who is either employed in the agricultural or horticultural industry, or in the second or further years of study in an agricultural or horticultural faculty, can apply. The program includes tours of stores, fresh- food markets and distribution centres, and group work and presentations from key people within the industry including senior Woolworths managers. It is a unique scholarship program aimed to stem the drift of talented people out of agriculture while building new talent within the industry. Woolworths head of fresh food Pat McEntee said a Senate committee heard evidence in May that agricultural courses at Australian universities had fallen from 23 a decade ago to just nine today. ''With the dwindling number of agricultural courses and the average age of the Aussie farmer increasing, it's imperative that the industry works together to attract and retain young people into agriculture,'' Mr McEntee said. ''Australians want to enjoy fresh Australian produce but we need young people to rise and lead the industry if we are going to meet this need into the future.'' UWS Professor Bill Bellotti, the Vincent Fairfax chair in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Woolworths scholarships were an important initiative. ''Modern food supply chains are critical to the future of both food consumers and food producers and this course at Woolworths equips the participants with the knowledge they need to address key issues in the industry,'' he said. Experts from the RAS and UWS will guide many of the lectures. Full details at woolworths.com.au. TOP GROWER: Richard Clark, from the Westerway Raspberry Farm, who was presented with the Young Fruit Grower of the Year Award Life's berry good for Ri KAROLIN MacGREGOR ONE of Tasmania's most innovative fruit pro- ducers has been recognised at this year's Fruit Growers Tasmanian annual dinner. Richard Clark, from the Westerway Raspberry Farm, was presented with the Young Fruit Grower of the Year Award. Mr Clark has grown up in the fruit industry and started his own business growing raspberries when he was just 15 years old. Since then he has taken over the family's business producing raspberries and blackcurrants for the processing industry. Today, the family has about 70ha under fruit production and uses mechanical harvesting to help keep the cost of production down. Mr Clark said they were supplying a small niche market for processors who wanted top quality, locally grown berries. He said moving into larger scale production over the years has been a learning curve. ''We're dealing with berries that are sweet and very juicy which is ideal for processing, but means they don't have a very long shelf life. ''That's something we've had to learn how to manage,'' he said. ''When you've only got a few days to get the product from picking through to the end customer, the time lines are pretty tight and that can makes things interesting.'' Mr Clark said he was pleased to win the young grower award, which was quite an honour. ''I didn't know anything about it, but my dad suggested that I should go to the dinner,'' he said. ''I had no idea it was such a big event and it was great to see so many people there from the industry right across the state.'' The awards dinner also saw five men, who all made highly valuable contributions to the Tas- manian fruit industry, added to the industry's Roll of Honour. These included Charles Burnaby, a Margate orchardist who spent many years contributing to the industry as a member of the State Fruit Board. George Jenkins was also added to the honour roll after a lifetime on the fruit industry, which included seven years on the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Board. Well known Tamar Valley orchardist Graeme Miller, was also a passionate supporter of the
May 31st 2012
June 14th 2012