Members will recall following the upheaval years of the oversupply and then the drought that a group of ‘residual’ members of the Hort Reference Forum promoted a new concept: the formation of a Riverland and Mallee Primary Producers Business Centre (RaMPP) for all producers.
The Hort Reference Forum had been convened on a monthly basis for a number of years to consult with government and assist manage a number of programs including Exit Packages and Drought Assistance. That experience had revealed the enormous benefits of collaboration between all the agriculture and horticulture silo groups.
At the most basic level the RaMPP would be established around a central hub that would provide a range of services such as those provided, like in a ‘Serviced Office’ facility. These would include reception, membership management, and discrete financial management; meeting rooms, printing facilities, lunchroom, hot-desks for occasional use and secretarial services for group meetings. At the next level and on a needs basis, modules could be added around the hub offering access to laboratory services on a fee for service basis for plant tissue, tissue, soil, water and other analytical services. Groups such as Riverland Wine or the Almond Board of Australia could elect to have their own module while smaller groups may be satisfied with a hot desk and some admin and secretarial support.
A key advantage of the RaMPP would be the ability to generate submissions to regional, State and federal government agencies on policy matters affecting our region’s primary producers and to submit grant applications as appropriate. Most regional industry bodies lack the expertise, time and confidence to provide these sort services to members. The group made solid progress for several years but the concept spluttered and died.
It’s time to stir the RaMPP. Already this year there have been plenty of circumstances in which a coherent, well-organised RaMPP could have assisted the region’s producers and government agencies. Take for example the range of biosecurity challenges around spraydrift, movement of fruit and machinery across borders, fruit-fly freedom for the region’s major industries, carpophilus beetle and ongoing challenges around water security, water values and threats to the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Primary producers and the River Murray breathe life and wealth into the Riverland. There are huge gains to be made if the community of PP’s and irrigators combine, as was the case in the drought years, to ensure best policies, best adoption of technology, best access to global markets and most competitive PP’s in the land. Stir the RaMPP.