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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Building Rapport Between Industry, Researchers, Extension Community, and Other Stakeholders.

Name of Leader:

David Ellement

Names of Participants:

Nathalie Jarosz, Mark Collins, Alex Goudy, Gordon Brown, Anita Chennell, Larisa Bilston, Evonne Lovric, Alison Anderson, Roy Murray-Prior, Kathyn Warbuton, Kim Jones, Paul O’Hare, Eric Anderson, M Hobson, Peter Metcuffe Cynthia Carson, Sergio Teixira, Lone Lisborg, Scott Ledger, Greg Mills, Emily Tee, Megan Connelly, Sally-Ann Henderson, Warren Vaschina, Alison Medhurst, David Lawerance, Nick Ch?, Bill Dagson.

Main points of discussion

  • Building of trust between researchers, extension people and industry was a common thread throughout discussion.
  • How do you develop grower groups?
  • The more industry is organised the better the results in terms of projects, research involvement, extension activities, etc.
  • R&D Committees.
  • Same people on committees for long time and may not have the industries interest as first priority. Their networking ability varies greatly. The pool of potential interested committee members is generally small. Needs to be some development of growers to make the pool larger. Wider industry representation.
  • Sustainable organised structures. There is currently too much turnover – doesn’t allow trust to develop.
  • The way committees are structured sometimes encourage undesired outcomes eg competition between researchers, lack of continuity of workers and the resultant effects on research. Looking at new structures for funding to produce desired research outputs.
  • Researcher input with R&D ideas to growers could be improved to allow those ideas to be discussed as R&D priorities. (The priorities should come from all of industry).
  • Project proposals over promising what they can achieve in projects. This leads to unreal expectations of researchers and can breed mistrust in the industry. We must build trust between stakeholders.
  • In some industries, researchers don’t see themselves as part of industry, in others researchers feel part of the industry but growers don’t perceive that they are. Possible solution is to run tours for researchers to visit growers and other stakeholders in supply chain.
  • Outcomes sometimes quantify extension by number not quality. E.g. sometimes working with small number of growers extensively can produce more results for all industry than attempting to communicate with lots of growers.
  • Changing conference format and presentations.
    • Growers present research
    • Researchers answer questions
  • Don’t know who is going to do long term research. Projects are funded in 3 to 5 year programs. Committees will fund projects that don’t have immediate direct benefit to industry provide it is clearly demonstrated.
  • To get ahead some researchers may need to produce lots of papers at the expense of delivering outcomes. This is changing.
  • Researchers need to come to the understanding of what growers need and growers need to come to the understanding of what researchers need. It is a dual responsibility to communicate needs.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • Get extension people to be equal partners in projects. The leader of projects may be an extension officer.
  • Encouraging proposals to state realistic goals. Don’t overstate expectations of outcomes and outputs to enhance success in achieving funding. Unrealistic goals set unrealistic expectations within the industry and can lead to mistrust.
  • Work at building grower confidence to put their hands up to be involved in committees. This will strengthen the current committees and make the process more rigorous.
  • Providing opportunities for industry and research community to interact to report back on projects, develop R&D issues, set priorities, and build relationships.

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