2 April 2015
FAQI continues to set a fast pace with initiatives to implement innovative strategies to communicate with our members and our flower and foliage industry colleagues throughout Australia and now throughout the world. Denyse Corner has led the initiative to provide the AFI Magazine to a wider audience by having the magazine available as an “app” on both the Apple and Android platforms. Compared to the paper based medium the “Flower mag” app has the potential to provide more engaging content for readers of our publication. Engaging content is an important ingredient in the Flower mag and this will help to grow the number of downloads and well as provide attractive opportunities for businesses to promote their products to a targeted industry global marketplace. The positive feedback from respected industry members has given us the confidence to expand the publication’s potential reach and on behalf of the FAQI Executive Committee I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the FAQI team to this ever improving publication.
In her report Denyse will focus on the achievements of the last year as she has done in previous years AGMs so I will not dwell on them too much now. I will say that each of the projects that we have undertaken, leads us to new opportunities to deliver more valuable services to FAQI members. I believe that current and future members are now better supported due to the projects that have been carried out and the tools that have been developed. Due to the funding received from government bodies, both State and Federal, the outcomes of projects are generally available to all Australian growers who wish to utilise the IP and engage with FAQI to improve their own business outcomes. With flower and foliage products easily transported throughout Australia and internationally, any achievements to improve productivity on the farm as well as results that increase the demand for our products in Australia will have positive benefits to Queensland growers.
FAQI’s two year project to help to develop the market has, I believe, delivered results. Already there are some growers that are reporting increased sales in the Australian market. There are an increasing number of websites promoting product availability and more social media activity that industry members are using to deliver information to their customers. I trust that this trend will continue as businesses see the results of changing the way they are communicating within their supply chain. As the Flower mag increases its reach to all sections of the industry both inside Australia and internationally, flower industry businesses will also have a platform to present their products to potential customers.
Some sections of the industry were quite concerned with the level of imports of cut flowers into Australia. This concern, I believe emanated from two areas; firstly the concern for the sustainability of an individual business and secondly from the concern that imported products could bring with them pests that would incur increased pest management costs not only within the flower industry but also within the wider horticulture industry and even within the environment. We have already seen examples of these incursions like recent incursion in the Panama Tropical Race 4 disease in the banana industry, Myrtle Rust affecting crops in the Myrtaceae family and Fire Ants.
FAQI responded in several ways;
- All flower and foliage businesses were invited to attend a conference to learn more about Marketing their own products.
- All flower and foliage businesses were encouraged to engage with their customers using FAQI’s social media platform and website including the Queensland Grown section for Qld businesses.
- FAQI is managing on behalf of the Australian Flower Council a project to document the start of the process to manage biosecurity risks from future pest incursions.
- FAQI initiated a project to gather the statistics available to provide a view of the current level of imports for the industry as a whole and for specific product groups. In 2013, the results showed that 88% of flowers and foliages consumed in Australia are being grown in Australia. These results and other facts are being published in the AFI Magazine so the information is available to businesses beyond the FAQI membership.
I believe that these initiatives provide good information to people contemplating their current position within the industry and the crops they grow as well as those who are considering entering the industry in the future.
Many of the projects that FAQI carried out for the whole Australian flower industry were co-funded by Horticulture Australia Ltd (HAL). This organisation has now been transformed to Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd (HIAL) and instead of relying on Peak Industry Bodies (PIB) now has growers as “shareholders”. This means that their funding model has changed. It is not yet clear how FAQI can engage with HIAL to deliver project outcomes to our members and to the wider industry where appropriate. Many other horticulture industries support their R&D with a levy which is managed by HAL and project are carried out using levy money as well as HAL fund received from the Federal government. The flower industry currently has no levy and so therefore projects were supported in the past by an industry Voluntary Contribution (VC) that took the place of the levy. FAQI is willing and able to complete projects for which we have signed contracts. FAQI have an expectation that HIAL will also honour the contracts prepared with their predecessor HAL. I feel that should HIAL not do so would erode our trust in entering into further contracts with government bodies.
The upshot of this is that FAQI needs to secure financial resources from other sources and from within the industry to carry out the initiatives to further the interests of the cut flower & foliage industry. The EC has engaged Shane Holborn to identify any possible sources of funding for projects that FAQI can carry out. Shane was previously employed by the Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation (DEEDI) and prior to that he worked for FAQI and is Denyse’s immediate predecessor. Shane has some promising prospects and the new EC will assess these opportunities and determine FAQI’s future direction.
In the meantime, FAQI is still financially sound but we need to manage our resources carefully and invest in those opportunities that will help FAQI members, the Queensland flower and foliage industry, and where appropriate the wider industry as well as sustaining the capacity to deliver benefits to FAQI members.
The FAQI Executive Committee (EC) members help to provide direction and support for the management team. I appreciated their opinions and their contribution to the operation of the committee. Pieter is not standing for re-election due to personal pressures and Nick Hutchinson is also not standing for re-election as he spends much of his work time overseas. I thank them both for their ideas and their contribution to the EC. I am keen to see the EC develop so that major flower growing areas in Queensland are represented.
I would like to thank Denyse, Janelle and Wendy who are the core members of the FAQI team and who help to deliver the essentials of an excellent organisation for their contribution in the last year. I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the people who are working on FAQI projects, Andrea and Lex.
Andrea has been with us for a little over two years and you will have seen her delivering at the Commference and the roadshows as well as on Facebook posts AFI magazine articles and other communications. We wish her all the best as she leaves FAQI to work for a flower and foliage business in Queensland.
Lex is working with me as the technical specialist in the Rural Water Use Efficiency project delivering improved water use efficiency measurements advice and suggestions to growers in Qld.
I would also like to acknowledge the partners and suppliers whose products and services help FAQI to operate efficiently.
FAQI members form the focus of all the activities we carry out. I appreciate their continued support of FAQI and I look forward to any opportunities to interact with them. Many of them have growing and thriving businesses and have great plans for the future. FAQI looks forward to their continued support and feedback.