20 October 2010

Queensland’s position as an international leader in tropical and sub-tropical agriculture and food research has been given a boost by today’s launch of The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

QAAFI is a new Institute of The University of Queensland (UQ) formed through an alliance between UQ and the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI).

Plant, animal and food scientists from both organisations will work together to develop new technologies and practices to benefit these important industries.

Inaugural QAAFI Director, Professor Robert Henry, and Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin, hailed QAAFI as an important initiative to further build on current agricultural and food research partnerships between UQ and the State Government.

“QAAFI will strengthen Queensland’s collective capacity to deliver high-impact research and development outcomes in areas that will not only benefit Queensland industries, but will also put Queensland on the map as a world leader in tropical and sub-tropical agriculture and food research,” Professor Henry said.

“The range of research to be undertaken at QAAFI will be extensive and will focus on industry needs. Expected outcomes are likely to return millions of dollars to Queensland agricultural and food industries.”

QAAFI will incorporate three centres – Nutrition and Food Sciences, Plant Science and Animal Science – and will work closely with industry, government and other stakeholders to address strategic issues.

Thirty-four senior DEEDI researchers have transitioned to QAAFI and by the end of 2010 a total of 100 research teams linked to QAAFI will be in place.

Mr Mulherin said the formation of QAAFI represents a $6.5 million partnership between the Queensland Government and UQ.

“This is a significant collaboration between the state’s two major agricultural and food research and development providers,” Mr Mulherin said.

“Today’s QAAFI launch is a recognition of the long-standing relationship between the Queensland Government and UQ.

“This important joint initiative will capitalise on new areas of research such as genomics, materials science and advanced systems modelling to create new innovations for Queensland's food and agribusinesses.

“An important aspect of the collaboration is that QAAFI researchers will remain embedded with research teams in DEEDI, providing vital links to the breadth of expertise available at both UQ and DEEDI.

“Research programs within QAAFI will also offer exciting career opportunities for Queensland’s young scientists – from the traditional agricultural research programs supporting the beef, dairy, cropping and horticulture industries, through to leading national research programs in food nutrition and biosecurity.”

QAAFI staff will be based at 11 sites distributed across UQ campuses and Queensland Government research stations and centres, which will facilitate regional linkages and allow for further collaboration with other organisations and research centres.

Media: Julie Lloyd from QAAFI (0415 799 890), Kathy Grube from UQ Communications (0418 524 297 or k.grube@uq.edu.au) or Minister Mulherin’s office (07 3239 6530).