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Research hub boosts NT drought readiness

Northern Australian communities and producers will have better access to drought resilience expertise through the new Top End Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub.

The Hub will bring together a range of research providers and research users, with a focus on local drought resilience research, development, extension, adoption and innovation priorities. It will be based at Charles Darwin University, with nodes at Katherine, Alice Springs, Broome and Perth. 

Senator for the Northern Territory Dr Sam McMahon said the Hub would help form a closer connection between drought resilience researchers and the producers and communities 

“The Top End Hub and nodes will be a shopfront for producers to access innovative technologies and practices that will benefit the whole Top End of the Northern Territory and Western Australia agricultural sector with people on the ground,” said McMahon.

“The major focus of the Top End Hub will be on co-creating innovative tools, techniques and practices to support producers and their communities to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability in agricultural lands management. I would expect the Hub will work closely with the network of existing research farms in the Northern Territory and Western Australia to avoid duplication,” she added.

The Hub is funded in part by the Australian Government, which has invested $8 million as part of its Future Drought Fund. The remaining contributions, which will total $13.9 million, will come from a consortium of government and private organisations. 

Members of the consortium include the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association, Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association, Northern Territory Farmers Association, Territory Natural Resource Management, the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group, Regional Development Australia NT and the Western Australian and Northern Territory governments.

Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the university is excited to lead the Hub. 

“The Hub will empower primary producers with the practical tools and information they need during future dry conditions to maintain productivity, remain competitive and increase community resilience to drought impacts,” he said. 

The Top End Hub is one of eight hubs that will be established around the country. The hubs each comprise a consortium of research providers and research users, with a regional focus, and each has a regional university as a member.

The seven other hubs will be located in southern New South Wales, southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, southwest Western Australia, Victoria, North Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. 

Speaking at the announcement of the Southern NSW Hub, to be hosted at Charles Sturt University, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, explained the “hub” model.

“The Hub will be a ‘hub and spoke’ model with resources, including staff and programs spread throughout southern New South Wales to capitalise on the members skills, assets and networks to generate drought resilience outcomes in areas such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community building, regional development and environment,” he said.