Interview John Harvey, GRDC Managing Director

Uploaded by theGRDC on 03.05.2012

GCTV Ep#7 John Harvey Interview
Darryl Anderson: Reporter John thanks again for joining us on Groundcover
TV. Now you’ve just announced a significant development in terms of pre-breeding and genetic
resources tell me about that?
John Harvey: Managing Director GRDC We’ve just finalised an investment to bring
together into Australia one national genetic resource
centre for crops based down in Horsham and I thinks that’s a real milestone. I guess
people know that none of the crops we grow here in Australia
commercial are native to Australia. Their origins
are from other parts of the world so we are very dependent in our crop breeding programs
to make sure we’ve got good genetic resources
here in Australia and the investment we’re making
in Victoria with the Victorian government I think is absolutely essential for our crop
breeders to have access to genetic diversity.
Darryl Anderson: We’ve had genetic resources around the place
before for instance the cereals collection in
Tamworth what’s significant about having them centralized/
John Harvey: Well I guess what we’ve been moving towards
is to try and rationalize the collection, so there has
been a number of collections held in Australia but also make them more accessible. With
computer technologies and databases that’s actually a lot easier and we’re also trying
to connect it up with what’s happening in other parts
of the world so that we can also access material that’s
not necessarily in Australia at the moment.
Darryl Anderson: It’s been described as ground breaking and
a first for Australia!
John Harvey: Well it is and it’s because it’s so important
to Australian grain growers to have access to that
genetic diversity and for breeders to have access to that and I guess it’s really only
one activity in a chain of activities that go to breeding
a new crop but part of it is actually going overseas going
back to the places the crops originated and looking for wild types and material that we
can now use in our breeding programs to build in for
example frosts resistance or water use efficiency into
our modern crops.
Darryl Anderson: Why is a centralised facility likely to make
plant breeding and pre breeding more productive?
John Harvey: It will make it more productive and it’s
also consistent with our whole national grains industry
RD&E strategy where we’re saying look we want every dollar working hard for Australian
grain growers we can’t afford duplication, fragmentation.
If you go back we use to have four I think, five
genetic resource centres in Australia. They were all small they all didn’t have the
critical mass they needed to do a good job. Bringing it
together into Horsham into the one location gives you
that critical mass allows you to do it properly and I think that’s important for Australian
grain growers.
Darryl Anderson: Interesting that while its significant investment
it’s in an area that growers don’t really get to see
first hand isn’t it?
John Harvey: Well it’s seen by growers in the varieties
that the breeders breed for them so they probably don’t
know about it directly but in the background it’s incredibly important. That’s the
engine room that genetic diversity that breeders then harvest.
Darryl Anderson: Moving on let’s look ahead to the season
you’d have to be pretty encouraged about the outlook
for this year wouldn’t you?
John Harvey: Well in a physical sense in a production sense
yes. When you look at the eastern seaboard the
phenomenal rain we’ve experienced over the past few months means that most if not all
of the grain belts got a good full profile of moisture
ready to go. All its really waiting for is a good plating
opportunity provided growers also had opportunities to control their weeds, which has been a
huge challenge. It’s on the back of a record crop so last year we grow over 29 million
tonnes of wheat and Western Australia grew 15 million
tonnes of wheat so the production side is looking
good. The more challenging aspect is prices and I guess the very high Australia dollar
at the moment is not good for growers and that is
making it difficult. But in additional to that at the
moment we have reasonably high wheat stocks in the world and that’s also putting downward
pressure on prices. So the price outlook I think is not as nice as what we would like.
I guess the other thing outlook wise is expectation with
Canola prices being good quite a few growers will
increase the amount of canola their rotation and also with livestock prices being good
particularly lambs that we might actually see some growers
actually put less acres into crop and a bit more
into livestock.
Darryl Anderson: Big wheat stock and the high dollar but on
the other hand there’s supply pressure from maize.
John Harvey: Yeah look at the moment US has had two record
maize crops and still socks have declined and I
guess a lot of that is around that fact that 40 percent of the maize is now going into
Ethanol in the States and that certainly is underpinning
the wheat price because obviously at a certain point in
time livestock industry starts substituting wheat for maize.
Darryl Anderson: John Harvey good to talk to you once again.
John Harvey: It’s a pleasure.