WIMMERA farmers’ experiences in China will help build knowledge for a new co-operative.
Farm Trade Australia formed in Rupanyup in October, with the aim of improving prosperity for growers and attracting new investment to rural areas.
A co-operative delegation attended an agritechnology expo in Shanghai in March before visiting Hefei and Jiangsu to inspect factories and port operations.
Farm Trade Australia director David Matthews said the group’s main aims were learning about new fertiliser and solar energy technologies that could become an additional revenue source for Australian farmers.
He said the expo site was four times the size of Melbourne Airport.
“Apart from agricultural chemical manufacturers, you have technology companies that have developed slow-release fertilisers, and others doing work with organic-based fertiliser,” he said.
“We also visited Nanjing port, where some fertiliser had just been loaded for Australia. We were interested in the quarantine protocols for Chinese fertiliser coming into Australia.”
Mr Matthews said Farm Trade Australia hoped to introduce younger farmers to international trade.
“Increasingly farmers will be dealing with international customers. There is a bit to learn in terms of how we enter those discussions,” he said.
Mr Matthews said the group was now starting to invite farmers to become members.
“As we go through that progress, we'll meet with them and explain more about our group,” he said.
“Up until now it’s been about building the framework behind the scenes, and building our profile with suppliers.
“We had meetings last year in Rupanyup to test the waters as we tried to understand the best way to structure the business.
“Now we’re starting to talk to local groups about our ambition and seeking their input.
“We are trying to articulate to farmers why we think they need a company that acts in their interests.
“We are also putting together an advisory council of farmers in their late 20s and 30s. The aim is to make sure the co-operative is relevant to the way that next generation of farmers is thinking.”