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    GROWING OPPORTUNITIES: Senior research scientist Dr Cassandra Walker, left, Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas and lab manager James Stevenson celebrate new investment at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    Agriculture minister Mary-Anne Thomas, centre, announcing a new incubation hub at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham.
  • Hero image
    Agriculture minister Mary-Anne Thomas announcing a new incubation hub at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham.
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    Agriculture minister Mary-Anne Thomas and glasshouse manager Dianne Noy with new grow house at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham.

New investment in glasshouse and incubation hub for Horsham Grains Innovation Park SmartFarm

By Michael Scalzo

The State Government hopes investment in a Horsham grain-research facility will maintain the Wimmera’s natural edge in developing alternative proteins for growing plant-based food markets. 

The State Government’s 2022-23 budget included $12-million for Grains Innovation Park at Horsham SmartFarm to build a new glasshouse and incubation hub. 

The precinct has been at the heart of Horsham’s recent success in developing new grain and pulse innovations and genetically modified foods. 

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State Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said it was ‘delightful’ to further invest in the world-leading research and innovation precinct. 

“This is all about growing opportunities in the alternative proteins market. We know all across the world there is an increasing demand for alternative proteins, and we are so well placed in this region to meet those demands,” she said. 

“The research done here is absolutely world leading and we are looking at the crops and pulses that can be grown efficiently and delivered from farmers and consumers, that are also climate resilient.”

Minister Thomas said construction of the new glasshouse and innovation hub would start in May 2023, create 40 jobs during construction and was expected to be finished in 2024. 

She said the new facilities were expected to house 100 workers on site. 

“Technology developed here is about ensuring farmers have more information about what crops are sustainable, to make decisions about crops they want to grow and to maximise their profit now and in the future,” she said. 

“While the Wimmera has always grown pulses to be shipped whole without processing, such as lentils and chickpeas, the future is in what can help us add protein to existing products, and also create other protein sources.

“Horsham is the home of grains research in Australia and indeed is world renowned for the quality of research that happens here. I am so proud of everyone that works here and the work they do in helping to feed the world.”

Horsham Grains Innovation Park has been the home of previous alternative protein success stories. 

The site was the foundation of Australian Plant Proteins, APP, part of EAT Group, which built and developed multi-use protein powders from faba beans for manufacture at its Horsham plant.

It remains Australia’s only commercial scale pulse-protein extraction facility, however the Federal Government contributed $113-million and South Australian government $65-million to construct and operate three more APP facilities in South Australia. 

Member for Western Victoria Andy Meddick said the Horsham facility was key in supplying a growing plant-based market and the Wimmera, as a central grain-growing region, was well suited to be a plant-based food hub. 

“I can’t stress how important this investment is in many forms. The continuation of the research it allows is going to underpin food security in Australia and other parts of the world,” he said. 

“From an economic front, in 2018 and 2019 in Australia the plant-based meat market was valued at $50-million, and from 2020-21 grew to $185-million. That market globally is worth $160-billion.

“West Victoria and the Wimmera, through this facility, is key to supplying that market and we can have a plant-based protein booming economy as a result.”

Australia’s inaugural alternative-proteins conference organised by Food Frontier will take place on May 17 in Melbourne, with industry, policy and research contributors. 

Food Frontier chief executive Jane Sydenham-Clarke said the conference was a significant growth milestone for the sector.

“As Australia and New Zealand’s first dedicated alternative proteins conference, AltProteins 22 signals the local alt-proteins industry is no longer just emerging, but an industry that is here to stay as a financially viable and important contributor to the future of Australia’s agri-food sector,” she said. 

The entire May 11, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!