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Northern Rivers Local News

Durum breeding to grow in commercial sector

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AGT’s Durum Breeder Tom Kapcejevs GRDC NVT plot of Westcourt at Bellata, NSW

Durum breeding to grow in commercial sector

Durum Breeding Australia (DBA), a national durum breeding program delivered by New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and the University of Adelaide in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), today announced that Australian Grain Technologies Pty Ltd (AGT) has been awarded the license to take the durum breeding program forward.

GRDC, NSW DPI and the University of Adelaide have co-invested in the DBA program since 2008, successfully delivering new durum varieties with improved yield and quality attributes for the Australian durum production areas.

In 2020, the DBA partners took the opportunity to leverage commercial breeding sector investment, technologies and capabilities in cereal breeding and sought proposals from the commercial breeding sector to licence the germplasm from the DBA program to continue durum breeding.

Australian breeding company, AGT, is already actively engaged in commercial durum breeding managing a program attached to its core cereal breeding activities.  The addition of the DBA germplasm into AGT’s breeding program demonstrates the increasing value of this crop to grain growers in both northern and southern regions.

Cathie Warburton, Interim Managing Director, GRDC, said that the outcome was a testament to the strength of the DBA collaboration built over many years and the shared vision to successfully move the breeding program from a research and development environment to the commercial sector.
“Our strategy for durum breeding had centred around meeting grower needs without generating market failure.  For GRDC, it’s all about finding the right path to market and helping growers become more profitable,” said Ms Warburton.

“This next stage for durum breeding reflects years of hard work from durum growers, researchers, breeders, processors and marketers, each making an important contribution to the durum industry.”

Durum wheat was first produced in Australia in the 1930s with a small plant breeding program established at the NSW Agriculture Glen Innes Experiment Farm.  NSW DPI has been involved in the breeding since those early days.

“NSW DPI’s had involvement in durum breeding for NSW grain growers for 86 years, finishing up in mid-2021,” said Dr Alison Bowman, NSW DPI Group Director Plant Systems. “The NSW DPI Tamworth team, leading the northern node of Durum Breeding Australia, had an extremely successful track record in developing durum varieties for NSW and Australian durum growers releasing 15 varieties in that time. These varieties now account for more than 90% of the durum wheat grown in the northern grains region.

“The varieties had higher yields, but it is the outstanding grain quality of the DBA Tamworth lines (bright yellow semolina loved by pasta makers internationally) that established durum wheat for international export production from Australia,” said Dr Bowman.
“The success of the NSW DPI breeding program in developing these varieties has seen the industry grow to the point that breeding can now be done on a commercial footing by a private plant breeding company using the elite germplasm developed by the NSW DPI team.”
Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Adelaide said the University’s focus on durum breeding over many years had made an important contribution to the industry’s viability.
“The University of Adelaide is proud of its long association with durum breeding and its enduring legacy, which can be found throughout the Australian durum industry today,” said Professor Middelberg. “With our focus on pre-breeding research, studying the specific traits that are needed for tolerance and resilience to Australian growing conditions, the University’s strong connection with industry will continue.
“We will work closely with Australia’s leaders in durum – such as San Remo, AGT, and the Southern Australia Durum Growers Association – to ensure the very best outcomes for industry and for consumers nation-wide, applying world-class science to add further value to an industry that is critically important to Australian agriculture and the economy,” said Professor Middelberg.
AGT Chief Executive Officer and Head of Breeding, Haydn Kuchel, said he was pleased that the company had been successful in securing the germplasm and looked forward to leveraging new opportunities for Australian durum grain growers.
“Breeding durum has been part of AGT’s story for 20 years and we have successfully developed several elite varieties for Australian conditions,” said Dr Kuchel.
“Taking on new germplasm from the DBA will allow us to keep delivering improved durum varieties beyond Bitalli and Westcourt, which have become the leading performers in the south and north respectively.”

“Using cutting-edge breeding technologies to increase efficiency and genetic gain means we offer Australian durum growers the benefits of a globally competitive breeding company,” said Dr Kuchel. “The work we do to improve yields and resilience reflects our passion for seeing Australian rural communities and businesses thrive.

“AGT is excited about continuing to work with durum growers and manufacturers to advance this high value crop’s impact and importance in Australian agriculture.”

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Northern Rivers Local News

Ice cream and lollies on hold – Muzza’s Milk Bar Evans Head

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Muzza’s Milk Bar has been closed for deep cleaning. Courtesy Facebook

Ice cream and lollies on hold

By Samantha Elley
Owner of Muzza’s Milk Bar in Evans Head, Caroline Powell was gutted when she found out her business had become a venue of concern, after a positive covid case was detected in Goonellabah last week.
“Unfortunately, NSW Health didn’t get in contact with me until 10.30am, so I did find out over Facebook first, as someone sent me the NSW Health post,” she said.
“It’s pretty hectic, but I’ve been on and off the phone with NSW Health…going through everything that I have to do.”
During the most recent lockdown for the Richmond Valley Muzza’s had been kept busy delivering all types of lollies and sweets to the surrounding areas, a welcome distraction for many.
Many friends and clients have checked in on Caroline and her staff.
“The phone’s been ringing all morning,” she said.
“Customers checking in on me and family members calling.”
Caroline placed a post on Muzza’s Facebook page explaining the situation.
“We are just very thankful that the person checked in via QR code, so we know that they were definitely here,” she wrote.
“We will be closed until further notice as all our staff, including myself, have to get tested and isolate until further notice.”
The next step for Caroline is to do a deep clean of the premises.
“NSW Health has sent me through the paperwork on how to do a Covid Deep Clean,” she said.
“They want me to send it to whoever I get to do the deep clean and they have to wear full PPE.”

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Muzza’s Milk Bar has been closed for deep cleaning. Courtesy Facebook

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Northern Rivers Local News

The Northern Rivers Times Edition 63

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Two charged following separate online grooming investigations

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

Two charged following separate online grooming investigations

TWO men have been charged with alleged online grooming offences following separate investigations by Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation Unit.

Last month, investigators from Strike Force Trawler began engaging with a man from Goonellabah.
Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the child, as well as sent explicit materials.
It will be further alleged that the man arranged to meet the girl for the purpose of a sexual encounter.
Following inquiries, a 60-year-old man was arrested at Lennox Head just after 9am on Monday, September 13.
He was taken to Ballina Police Station, where he was charged with two counts of use carriage service-procure child under 16 years for sexual activity.

The man was refused bail and appeared at Byron Bay Local Court, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at Lismore Local Court on Monday, November 8.

Separately, in June, detectives began speaking with an East Lismore man, who believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl – allegedly engaging in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the child – before arranging to meet with her.

Following further inquiries, the man was arrested at a South Lismore business about 10.20am on Tuesday, September 14.
A search warrant was then executed at an East Lismore address, where detectives seized an electronic device, which will undergo further forensic examination.

The 62-year-old man was taken to Lismore Police Station, where he was charged with use carriage service to groom under 16 years for sex.

He was refused bail and appeared at Lismore Local Court, where he was granted conditional bail to reappear at the same court on Thursday, November 11.

Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Jayne Doherty, said the arrests should serve as a warning for guardians of young children.

“Police will allege both these men believed they could engage in sexual activity with a young child,” Det Supt Doherty said.

“Parents and guardians should be aware of what their children are doing on the internet and who they are speaking with. They should never arrange to meet with someone they have met online.

“Make sure your children feel comfortable speaking up about anything they have done online.”
Information and educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

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