The Strategic Plan of the Vegetable Centre identifies a wide range of stakeholders with whom interaction and consultation is necessary including: Representative industry associations and groups (e.g. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, AusVeg, Tasmanian Association of Greenhouse Growers, Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group).
In addition the Vegetable Centre Operational Plan has a number of operational activities that are partly, if not wholly, directed to industry liaison and consultation. These are listed under Strategic Priority 3 - Partnerships, Relationships and Communications in Vegetable Centre Strategic Plan 2008-2011.
The Terms of Reference of the Vegetable Centre Advisory Group (VCAG) contain the following references relevant to industry consultation:
- Develop and maintain relationships with peak industry bodies and funding organisations, such as Ausveg, TFGA, TAPG, HAL, RIRDC; and
- Oversee the preparation and implementation of a communication plan for the Vegetable Centre that creates and maintains a high level of awareness of the Centre and its programs
- It is important to note that members of VCAG have been selected to provide specific skills required on an advisory group, and not as representatives of individual industries or industry groups.
The structure of the TIA Vegetable Centre is set out in the Vegetable Centre Strategic Plan. It shows the formal communication lines for consultation and liaison as being primarily through VCAG and the Vegetable Centre Leader. Consequently, communication lines for all the strategies listed below will be consistent with the approved structure in Figure 1, as stated in the Strategic Plan: Consultation with Industry organisations will principally be through the Vegetable Centre Advisory Group.
Nevertheless, there is a clear need for those in Leadership positions to consult and liaise with industry groups and key individuals, as part of the functions of those positions.
Formal liaison and consultancy is through and by:
- VCAG, which is chaired by an independent Chair and has 4 industry members and one State Government member. The Leader Vegetable Centre is also a member. VCAG is a Centre Advisory Group focussing on the operations of the Centre ís activities across the entire vegetable and associated industries, rather than on specific industries. Its role is strategic and it does not scrutinise individual projects.
- The Leader, Vegetable Centre and the Research, Development and Extension Leaders are also expected to liaise and consult directly with Industry stakeholders. Individual staff of the Vegetable Centre also liaise formally and informally and consult with industry in areas specific to their research, development and extension activities.
- Industry input to policy and R, D and E project development and recommendations to VCAG and the Vegetable Centre Leader would enhance industry relevance of projects, and support briefing of Tasmanian IAC representatives for positive advocacy of TIA projects and Tasmanian priorities in National forums. In addition, liaison and consultation with key industry stakeholders will also assist with the development and implementation of collaborative R, D & E projects and hence avoid duplication.
Strategies for future industry liaison, consultation and communication
There are two levels of Liaison, Consultation and Communication, these being on:
- Strategic and Operational Plans and Policy - this is a role of VCAG; and
- Vegetable Centre Projects - their initiation, development, relevance and fit with industry priorities and needs (the area where effective liaison, consultation and communication is essential) - a role for the Vegetable Centre, with input from VCAG as appropriate.
In addition, there are four areas of liaison, consultation and communication requiring specific approaches:
- Gaining input from Tasmanian vegetable industry to establish priorities for Vegetable Centre Research, Development and Extension.
Strategy A: Planned meetings of the Vegetable Centre Leader and key staff with the various Industry bodies (organised by Vegetable Centre Leader).
Strategy B: Invitation to representatives of key industry stakeholders not currently on VCAG to attend and discuss issues with VCAG as required (organised by Chair, VCAG).
Strategy C: Consultation with industry during the initiation and development phases of projects. This often happens anyway, but if formalised would require administrative checks to be included and a mechanism to ensure acceptance by Industry of the research application (project proposals already flow through Centre Leader role would be expanded to ensure liaison and consultation and administrative procedures completed). Staff with responsibility to liaise with specific industries (Industry champions) will engage with industry at the project formulation stage, using gap analysis to identify research needs and priorities.
Strategy D: An annual or biennial Industry Round-table to provide an opportunity for industry stakeholders to have input to research priorities for the ensuing period. It should involve industry peak bodies, producers, marketers and processors, and perhaps retailers (ie representation from all stages of the Value Chain), and be provided with updates on research activities over the period since its previous meeting. The Vegetable Centre Leader and Chair of VCAG would be responsible for its organisation.
The Industry Round-table would:
Receive report on research progress from Vegetable Centre Leader -
- Advise on industry R, D and E priorities
- Suggest areas of new and innovative R, D and E
- Provide resource material for promotion of research in the media.
- Strategy E: Regular attendance at TFGA Vegetable Council and TAPG meetings by Centre Leader (or nominee) as appropriate.
- Establishing collaborative RD&E projects.
Strategy A: Direct liaison and consultation with specific industry stakeholders (eg. R, D & E providers) (Centre Leader, Industry champions and/or staff).
Strategy B: Calls for expressions of interest from R & D providers (Centre Leader).
Strategy C: Identify and seek project input and applications for funding outside traditional sources.
- Linking to national and international priorities and developments.
Strategy A: Vegetable Centre marketing its capacity (intellect and infrastructure) to R, D & E Funding providers.
Strategy B: Membership on relevant national and international committees etc as appropriate (Centre Leader or his nominee).
Strategy C: Regular meetings with industry representatives on national and international committees etc (Centre Leader or nominee).
Strategy D: Regular meetings with EO of key funding bodies (Centre Leader).
Strategy E: Input into development and implementation of relevant national R, D and E plans.
Strategy F: Recognition of national R, D & E priorities established by appropriate Ministerial Councils.
- Communication of Vegetable Centre's RD&E.
Strategy A: Planned specific seminars with specific industry stakeholder groups.
Strategy B: Field days.
Strategy C: Annual report on activities and results.
Strategy D: Projects reports and factsheets on TIA Website, with hotlinks to Industry and Government websites.
Strategy E: Attendance at TFGA Vegetable Council and TAPG meetings.
Strategy F: An annual or biennial Industry Round-table (see 1. Strategy D above).
Strategy G: Consultants Day hosted by TIA.