THE Queensland government has announced that the former Emerald Agricultural College facility will be redeveloped into the central Queensland Smart Cropping Centre.
The announcement comes as past students plan to celebrate the Emerald Agricultural College's 50 year anniversary at the facility on Saturday June 26.
It's been two years since the Palaszczuk government scrapped the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges in 2019, following a review by Professor Peter Coaldrake.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the Central Queensland Smart Cropping Centre is a major opportunity for the region to play a big part in the sector's future.
"As part of the 2021 State Budget, the Emerald facility will be reborn as an innovation flagship that brings together Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) in areas such as farming systems, agronomy, crop innovation and plant protection, together with the latest innovations in AgTech and data sciences to deliver a world-class research hub for Queensland's cropping sector," Mr Furner said.
"In a significant win for the agriculture industry, opportunities for industry-relevant horticulture research will also be explored."
Minister Furner said the Emerald facility was ideally suited to its strategically important new role.
"The Emerald property has both the necessary size and suitable soil types for extensive RD&E activities that support the significant grains sector in the Central Queensland region," he said.
"DAF is currently in discussions with the Central Highlands Regional Council and Central Highlands Development Corporation on alternative options regarding the tenure and future use of the campus and related areas at the Emerald site.
"The Budget has also allocated ongoing funding to maintain the former QATC properties at Emerald and Longreach for future uses.
"Negotiations will continue with interested parties to identify suitable repurposing options for the former Longreach Pastoral College."
Mr Furner said Queensland's Plan for Economic Recovery included a strong focus on research and development in the agriculture sector.
"Last year we allocated more than $74 million towards RD&E activities which was supplemented by more than $65 million from industry," he said.
"Our commitment extends to improving skills and education in agriculture with $9.75 million in TAFE training infrastructure for the agriculture sector across Queensland over the next two financial years including in Bowen, Cannonvale, Bundaberg and Toowoomba."
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