Over the past 6 months we have been working on a strategic project to bring the whole berry category under one umbrella for projects. This does not mean replacing the peak industry bodies like the ABGA. It does mean that we have formed Berries Australia Limited and the proprietary company is a joint venture between ABGA and Raspberries and Blackberries Australia Incorporated (RABA).
The ABGA/RABA initiative has resulted in a new proprietary company, limited by guarantee, and managed by a board of directors appointed by the shareholders (ABGA and RABA). The reasoning is that we will be able to better serve our members (growers) by co-ordinating projects across the berry category. Communications is one area where we will be able to deliver stronger value through a combined journal for growers. We are hoping that we will eventually welcome strawberries to this new vehicle as a shareholder as well.
There are many areas that make sense to utilise a combined approach. Some examples that would result in higher returns through a co-ordinated strategic direction are biosecurity, farm workforce management and export market development. This direction has the endorsement of Horticulture Innovation Australia and many other stakeholders in Government and Industry.
At the point the new entity was formed, Alex Smith was planned to perform the Executive Director role for all 3 entities; ABGA, RABA and Berries Australia. Alex has subsequently moved on to a new role and the position is now held by Rachel Mackenzie.