THE Australian cotton industry is one of the success stories of Australian agriculture.
Australian cotton is the highest yielding, finest, cleanest and greenest cotton in the world.
We are an industry taking responsibility for our performance by continuously improving our practices to meet our own expectations and those of society.
Australia’s best cotton growers now achieve more than two bales of cotton per megalitre of water – almost double the industry average of just a decade ago.
Our industry is at the forefront of environmental management systems, climate change preparedness and adaptation.
It’s an extraordinary story of achievement, thanks primarily to the continued support of the industry and the Australian Government for research, development and extension (R, D and E).
It has been, and continues to be, a combined and collaborative effort. The Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) invests in R, D and E on behalf of cotton growers and the Australian Government, with the oversight of our industry body, Cotton Australia, and the research prowess of our increasingly diverse research partners.
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CRDC – like our fellow research and development corporations – was established by the Australian Government to work with industry to invest in R, D and E for a more profitable, sustainable and dynamic industry.
We exist to deliver impact through innovation. Innovation, by its very nature, is dynamic and rapidly changing, providing exciting new possibilities.
Our industry is well positioned to benefit as growers have always been very willing to invest in and rapidly adopt emerging science, innovations and technologies.
Similarly, innovation within CRDC’s business model will enable opportunities to generate greater benefits for cotton producers and the community.
By example some 40 per cent of CRDC’s investment is now made through cross-sectoral initiatives to achieve increased scales of impact, and we are actively engaging talented entrepreneurs, start-ups and commercial businesses in solving industry challenges.
CRDC’s strategic leadership and collaboration in R, D and E investment has been a driving force behind the Australian cotton industry’s transformation over the past 27 years.
During this time, we have invested more than $320 million into R, D and E on behalf of the industry and Australian Government, delivering billions of dollars in benefit back to Australian cotton growers and the community.
One project alone – CRDC’s investment in plant breeding – is estimated to have contributed $5 billion to the industry and the Australian economy.
The global demand for food and fibre is growing – our challenge is to ensure Australia’s rural industries are equipped for the next 25 years to seize the opportunities arising through innovation.
Bruce Finney is the executive director of the Cotton Research Development Corporation.