ONE Gippsland last week warmly welcomed the federal government’s announcement of a Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub for Victoria, with the Gippsland region set to play a major role.

Under a landmark new model, the University of Melbourne will work with partner organisations – known as nodes – in the regions to support innovative new drought management practices.

Food and Fibre Gippsland and Federation University will play a critical role in collaborating with the local community to co-design resilience strategies.

“Food and Fibre Gippsland is the node leader of the program and we are pleased this will really help farmers to get ahead of the game when it comes to being prepared for drought,” chief executive officer of Food and Fibre Gippsland, Nicola Pero said.

“The program is supporting innovation at a local, practical level,” she said.

“As the hub lead for digital platform innovations, Federation University is uniquely placed to work with industry leaders and agricultural businesses through the co-development, testing, adoption, and scaling up of innovative technologies and practices to support the Gippsland economy.”

The $8 million joint investment over five years from the federal government’s Future Drought Fund and hub members is expected to deliver benefits across the Gippsland region with significant project funding allocation.

“As members of the One Gippsland alliance, I know that Food & Fibre Gippsland will bring a collaborative and inclusive approach to finding regional solutions,” chair of One Gippsland and Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari said.

“Being a node leader means that Gippsland has a seat at the table to reshape how we prepare for drought in this country.”

The Victorian hub is predicted to become a flagship for innovation, focused on ensuring agricultural research is accessible and practical.

Hub co-director Professor Tim Reeves from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences said: “This hub brings together a great team focused on delivering real impacts for the agri-food sector in Victoria, in terms of enhanced drought resilience for farmers, for communities and the environment.”

Nicola Pero welcomed the opportunity to be involved.

“Food and Fibre Gippsland, as the region’s peak body for the $7 billion industry sector, is honoured to be the designated Gippsland node leader as we collaborate with our state-wide partners.”

“Following multiple years of drought that parts of our region have experienced, this new program will bring enormous benefit and
sustainable outcomes.”