Corangamite Shire’s agribusiness sector gets funding boost from government

Corangamite Shire’s agribusiness sector is getting a funding boost from the Victorian state government.

On Wednesday, Minister for agriculture, Jaala Pulford, announced a $260,000 investment from the government for three projects in Corangamite as part of the Local Roads to Market program.

The Corangamite upgrades are three of 39 projects worth $24 million that will be delivered under the second round of the program.

Pulford said the program supported communities that relyed on farming to ensure produce was delivered to market safe and on time.

READ: Wimmera Mallee road upgrades boost agribusiness in Vic

“These investments will boost the productivity farm businesses and their supply chains and put them in a better position to compete in international markets,” she said.

The grant, along with a co-investment from Corangamite Shire Council and industry, will fund infrastructure upgrades to enable and improve the access for heavy vehicle freight from the farmgate to arterial roads.

The three projects include a $200,000 upgrade to the intersection of North Robilliards Road and Timboon-Nullawarre Rd, which will allow heavy vehicles and traffic to safely navigate the intersection.

The project will also install an advanced warning signal to improve road visibility and safety for milk transport.

Tomahawk Creek Rd, up to the farmgate of Heytesbury Stockfeeds, will be widened and sealed for $40,000 and $20,000 will go to upgrading the intersection at Noskin and Browns Rd for heavy vehicle freight from Timboon Goat Farm.

Gayle Tierney, a member for Western Victoria, said the upgrades would improve agribusiness and supply chain productivity, as well as the country road network for all users.

Nestle scores Didier Drogba deal to improve Education

Nestle have announced their intention to build a new state-run primary school for the Didier Drogba Foundation in Drogba's home region of Gagnoa. 

Didier Drogba started the foundation that bears his name to help vulnerable Ivorians in the area of education, and it has now partnered with Nestle to further these goals, which the company supports.

The partnership marks the announcement that KitKat is now the world's first global confectionery brand sourced from 100 per cent sustainable cocoa, supplied under the Nestle Cocoa Plan.

The Plan enables farmers to run profitable farmers and enables the company to source good quality, sustainable cocoa for its products. Crucially, it also improves social conditions in farming communities.

Nick Weatherill, Executive Director of International Cocoa Initiative, an organisation that promotes child protection in cocoa communities, insists that well-built schools do help in the fight against child labor.

“If there’s no school in a community, then there’s no real alternative for kids. Since their parents are hardly going to let them sit at home doing nothing, the likelihood of them working on the farm is therefore higher. So building one is an essential part of the response.”

“If that school offers high quality education, and it’s free, then you rarely find a cocoa farmer who doesn’t want to send his child. That said, bricks and mortar alone isn’t enough.”

Weatherill warns that if farmers can’t afford to hire adult workers to replace their children, then they can be reluctant to send them to school. That’s why it’s also vital to address the problem of rural poverty.

Duckweed key to solving global food production issues

$100,000 worth of funding has been given to Team Exatio, made up of QUT post-graduate students, for a plan to double global food production by harvesting the aquatic plant duckweed.

Provided by leading food facilities design and engineering company Wiley as part of the 2015 Global Business Challenge, the prize provides professional support to assist the team in progressing their idea to the next stage.

According to Team Exatio member David Martin, Lemna known as duckweed, is an alternative plant-based protein solution that can be used as feedstock for animals.

“Every year around the world we are losing 120 million hectares of arable land to grow animal feedstocks. So by using non-arable land to grow new feedstocks like duckweed, we can save that arable land to grow food that people need,” Martin said.

Indicating positive news for meeting the demands of global food supply, the protein-rich plant can duplicate every two to three days –encouraging the team to further develop the concept as a sustainable food source for intensive animal farming.

By taking the new approach to processing food for farming, Team Exatio hoped to address a number of key challenges facing global food production including water quality and land availability. 

Government Funding for the Food Industry

An interesting anomaly about government funding is that, on the one hand it is such an attractive source of cash, but on the other hand the majority of eligible companies either don’t know it exists or don’t know how to access it says Lior Stein from Rimon Advisory.

If I were to simplify government grants I would explain them in two points:
The first being Innovation and the second being assistance for bringing foreign revenue to Australia.
The benefit involved in attaining government funding can be quite large and at times could amount to between 40% – 50% of funds spent in innovation or marketing to foreign markets.

The beginning of assessing innovation is quite simple. Ask yourself the following question, are you doing something different that you believe your competitors aren’t doing and that is new in the space?
If the answer to that question is yes then the next step would be to consider the 3 basic principles of innovation grants  

The 3 basic principles of innovation grants are 
1. New Knowledge 
2. Experimentation 
3. Uncertainty

These three principles all flow into each other.
Lets explain these principles using actual case studies.

1.    New knowledge begins by identifying a gap in the market. 

An organic beverage manufacturer and formulator (Organics Pty Ltd) realised that the short shelf life of organic beverages is a limiting factor for exportation. Some web searches were done and the result was that there seems to not be an off the shelf product available in the world that solves this problem.

A doughnut maker (Jam Pty Ltd) realised that the insertion of jam into doughnuts was exceptionally time consuming and limited the speed of their production run. Some web searches were done and the result was that there seems to not be an off the shelf product available in the world that solves this problem.

2.    Experimentation
At this point Organics Pty Ltd started developing a solution to fill the gap that was found. The development process required experimentation and different iterations of the product. The process is an ongoing process as Organics Pty Ltd is continuing to improve their findings in this area.

Jam Pty Ltd needed to automate their insertion of jam and cream into their doughnuts process. Process engineers were hired to design and develop the process. Experiments were required in order to get the process precisely correct to optimise the automation

3.    Uncertainty
Both Organics Pty Ltd and Jam Pty Ltd didn’t have certainty at the outset that these new projects were going to work. They did believe that each would be a success but the final products were achieved through much trial and error.
These final products are the items that filled the initial gap and are now the new knowledge that each company has brought to the world.

The main innovation grant available in Australia is the R&D Tax Incentive and can definitely be applied to the food business industry should the project be eligible.

Foreign revenue being brought to Australia

This avenue is simpler to explain than that of innovation grants.
There is funding available for exporters who are spending money on marketing their products to foreign markets.
Again, 3 basic principles, the first being an Australian product, the second being that revenue flows to Australia and the third being that marketing expenses are recognised in Australia.

1.    Australian Product
The product needs to be either completely made in Australia or the majority of the product made in Australia.
If the products have an element made in a foreign country e.g.China it could still be considered an Australian product.

2.    Revenue flows to Australia
The revenue gained from the Australian products being marketed abroad needs to be recognised in the Australian entity.
An entity need not have actual revenue in the first two years of applying for this grant.

3.    Marketing expenditure being recognised in Australia
Expenditure spent on marketing to foreign markets needs to be recognised in the Australian entity.
These expenses could include staff and consultants employed in the foreign country, flights, conferences attended, google and facebook advertising, websites targeted overseas, trademarks and patents, pamphlets and flyers made and free samples being given to enter a market.

The incentive described above is known as EMDG (Export Market Development Grant).
EMDG offer up t0 a 50% grant on the expenses described above.

Statistics show that about 70% of eligible Australian companies either are unaware that they are eligible or simply don’t know how to go about accessing the funding available.

Best practice would be to consider the principles explained above and enquire as to a possible benefit and eligibility.