Next crop of leaders waiting to sprout

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Fifteen ricegrowers have been chosen to take part in a program aimed at boosting leadership confidence in the rice industry.

They will participate in the first tier of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia’s Rice Industry Leadership Program, which begins in Deniliquin next week.

They will learn about the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture, the importance of industry sustainability and be exposed to key networks and associations over an intense four-day course from February 18 to 21.

The Introduction to the Rice Industry program is designed to guide newcomers to the industry and people with a passion for rice.

Having grown his first crop 10 years ago, Mayrung participant Stephen Ball said he’s not technically new to the rice industry, but the course would allow him to become more involved beyond his farm.

‘‘I had a rice field day at my farm and it led me to think that I could probably do more on our farm, and probably more for the rice industry as well,’’ Mr Ball said.

‘‘I have been growing rice for 10 years, but in that time I have not had too much to do with the industry itself.

‘‘Given there is so little rice being grown this year, because of the water job, I thought I should extend my knowledge.

‘‘And if I keep going down the line maybe one day look at being a director.’’

Mr Ball said because of ‘‘the water job’’ he has been restricted to growing just 16 hectares of rice this year.

The mixed farmer said the conditions are also tough on his stock.

‘‘We are restricted in the amount of rice we can put in because of the country we can grow on, but we would normally average between 60 and 70 hectares. Last year we got 89 hectares in.

‘‘The 16 hectares this year has been grown on carryover (water), but we did use a bit of our allocation irrigating winter cereals in spring.

‘‘If we don’t get an allocation, I expect there will be very little grown here next year.’’

Other program participants include Sebastian Liphuyzen (Deniliquin), Annabel Arnold (Berrigan), Harriet Brickhill (Griffith), Tom Doyle (Finley), Dominic Garden (Bunnaloo), Samantha Glenn (SunRice employee, originally from Moulamein), Alison Gregory (SunRice employee, originally from Jerilderie), Joshua Hart (Griffith), Amy Lolicato (Moulamein), Lauren Patten (Moulamein), Alexander Schultz (Tocumwal), Sam Sleigh (Jerilderie), Donald Willox (Moulamein) and Rachel Wood (Yanco).

RGA leadership coordinator Ainsley Massina said the strong interest in the program highlights the willingness of industry personnel to step up and secure their future.

‘‘Given the testing drought conditions it’s great to see the passion for the rice industry hasn’t waned,’’ she said.

‘‘The leadership program is a wonderful way to instil confidence in the industry and equip our future leaders with the skills to harness the opportunities ahead.’’

The interactive program will focus on industry leadership development in R&D, policy, advocacy and sustainability of the rice industry.

The course will give participants exposure to expert speakers and industry leaders to build their networks and leadership skills.

Four of this year’s participants will be selected from stage one of the program to attend a two day workshop in Canberra, to meet with leaders in organisations such as Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the National Farmers’ Federation, the National Irrigators’ Council and Australian Government.

They will further develop networking and advocating skills learned in the Introduction to the Rice Industry course.

The RGA Rice Industry Leadership Program 2018-2020 consists of three courses: Introduction to the Rice Industry, Foundations of Leadership and Established Leaders.