The GRDC is usually only one of a number of public and/or private organisations investing in the development of new technologies for the grains industry. The GRDC collaborates with other organisations to increase the return on its investment and deliver greater benefits to Australian graingrowers than would be possible if the GRDC operated alone. Partnerships enable investors to share financial resources and research capability, as well as other benefits such as market knowledge and access to complementary technologies and intellectual property. They also reduce the risk faced by each organisation.
In 2005-06, the Chair of the GRDC served as head of the Council of Research & Development Corporation Chairs, which brings together all the chairs of Australian rural research and development corporations (RDCs) to identify and pursue areas of common interest.
The GRDC also strengthened its strategic and operational relationships with the other RDCs by sharing corporate expertise in other ways.
For example, the GRDC:
- made presentations on The Way Forward, the GRDC's strategic business plan, before the Chairs Working Group and the Board of the Sugar RDC
- shared the GRDC template for addressing issues raised in the Uhrig Review with all other RDCs
- coordinated a joint RDC response to the Department of Finance and Administration on proposed changes to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act) and related legislative instruments
- provided input to the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Livestock Production Research and Development Strategic Plan 2006-2011
- shared the GRDC's format for monthly reporting with the Rural Industries RDC (RIRDC)
- shared the GRDC's organisational competencies and performance appraisal processes with the Fisheries RDC
- contributed to joint presentations to government
advisory bodies, such as the
- Agriculture and Food Policy Reference Group
- Natural Resource Management Working Group
- Coalition Backbench Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
In September 2005 at Parliament House, RDCs jointly presented Rewards from Innovation-World's Best Food and Fibre, showcasing the achievements of cooperative industry-government R&D. The GRDC took part in the event, and in follow-up activities that included planning an RDC communication strategy for 2006-07; establishing an RDC program managers forum; and establishing an RDC business managers forum.
To ensure their R&D outcomes are effectively communicated to a wide range of stakeholders, several organisations, including the GRDC, Land and Water Australia, MLA, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, CSIRO, the RIRDC, the Bureau of Rural Sciences, the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council are working together to develop a 'one-stop knowledge shop' for natural resource management.
In 2005-06, the GRDC was also an investment partner in a number of joint research projects, including:
- the Grain and Graze Program
- the Joint Centre for Farm Health and Safety
- the Managing Climate Variability Program
- the National Annual Pasture Legume Improvement Program
- Pastures Australia
- the Pasture Soil Biology Program
- the Premium Grains for Livestock Program
- a pulse transformation and technology transfer project.
Further details of these and other collaborative projects, including the research partners involved, are provided in Appendix 3.
In 2005-06, the GRDC maintained two very valuable alliances with international centres for crop improvement:
- a contractual relationship, and investments, with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico-this relationship has made significant long-term contributions to the productivity and sustainability of the Australian wheat industry
- a strategic alliance with the International Centre for Research Into the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria-this year, a management package was developed to minimise the impact of disease in chickpeas by screening a large number of chickpea lines at ICARDA.
Australia is in the process of ratifying the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. In 2005-06, the GRDC put in place a new, three-year national program, entitled Plant Genetic Resources, to support the formation of a National Genetic Resource Centre.
Australia is also in the process of acceding to the Establishment Agreement of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an international treaty-level agreement. The objective of the trust is to provide a permanent source of funds to support the longterm conservation of germplasm on which the world depends for food security. The GRDC contributed $1.18 million to the trust in 2005-06 and will continue to support it into the future.
The GRDC has a 22 percent shareholding in the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd (ACPFG). ACPFG has signed a major research agreement with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.-one of the world's biggest maize-breeding companies, based in the United States. The agreement, the first deal with a large United States commercial company, will bring $2.3 million in research investment to Australia with the opportunity to access the best international crop science available.
In 2005-06, the GRDC hosted a number of international delegations, mainly from countries with well-established grains industries. Through such visits, the delegations learn about Australia's industry-government collaborative approach to R&D, while the GRDC gathers first-hand information about the industry drivers in other countries.
Particularly noteworthy were high-level visits by:
- a 16-person delegation from Canada, which visited the GRDC in November 2005
- a three-person delegation from the Korean Agriculture R&D Promotion Center, which visited the GRDC in November 2005
- a delegation including the President of the National Farmers Federation of Chile and the Ambassador of Chile in Australia, which visited the GRDC in January 2006
- a three-person delegation from Kazakhstan, including an adviser to the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, which visited the GRDC in May 2006
- the 20-person Chilean Farmer Delegation, including graingrowers, quality advisers, millers, researchers, and agricultural and business advisers, which visited the GRDC in June 2006.