Adoption of innovative practices and technologies is essential to growing and developing the Australian mango industry. Research to improve operations and practices is underway across Australia and successful engagement programs that spread information, improve access to new technology, increase skills and knowledge and drive adoption by extending outcomes of research to industry is crucial for improved results.
Traditional engagement methods such as workshops, field days and information brochures have long been favoured extension and engagement activities by the mango industry. However, delivery of information through electronic means is gaining increased acceptance. Whichever method of extension is used, approaches that involve active stakeholder participation are essential to foster uptake.
Improved grower engagement and communication have been identified as two of the Australian mango industry’s five key priorities for the future. The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) is one of the principle organisations delivering research outcomes and information resources to the Australian mango industry. This information has been developed from a range of work conducted both in Australia and internationally, funded through a number of bodies, including the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
DAF Mango extension leader Dr Geoff Dickinson, said that the internet is a powerful tool that can empower, educate and engage people from across the globe and it has changed the way resources, training and information is delivered.
“The internet has created new communication technologies that provide unlimited potential for fast and cost effective information sharing, learning and teaching. The internet extends the capacity and reach of project outputs through electronic delivery of extension materials to the Australian mango industry,” he said.
“Integrating traditional methods to deliver information with new technologies has the greatest potential to improve adoption and is the most efficient and effective use of limited resources. We have integrated road-shows, workshops and field days with internet and multimedia technology to improve access to and adoption of information by mango growers,” Dr Dickinson said.
DAF’s project has developed a number of information packages, training programs and resources on four priority areas of mango production and postharvest handling to increase grower profits. Web based technologies has played a key role in engaging the industry and extending these packages.
“We researched and identified the most suitable online technologies and methods to improve the mango industry’s access to the latest news, information, ideas and training resources. Methods such as videos and webinars can be equally as effective as face to face communication, especially when face to face meetings may not be possible due to location, time and cost constraints,” he said.
Three training packages to help farm workers improve their mango harvesting and packing practices were developed. These packages had extremely positive feedback and have been posted on YouTube as videos where growers can access them at any time. One of these videos ‘Mango picking – How to do it right’ has been viewed over 1,000 times.
“These training packages were presented at a number of grower workshops across Australia. They resulted in reduced worker injuries from sap burn and a noticeable improvement in the overall quality of mangoes, with significantly less immature fruit picked,” Dr Dickinson said.
The nutrition package, Food for Fruit – Key nutritional requirements for mangoes, which was delivered at seven grower workshops across northern Australia, has also been uploaded to the internet to enable the mango industry greater access to this key information resource on mango nutrition principles.
DAF’s mango extension program has been supported by a Horticulture Innovation Australia project; Delivering Information and Technology to the Mango Industry and two Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded projects. Research and development of integrated crop management for mango production in the southern Philippines managed by Dr Ian Newton, DAF and Integrated crop management practices to enhance value chain outcomes for the mango industry in Pakistan and Australia managed by Dr Ian Bally, DAF. ACIAR funds international and domestic research to improve the productivity and profitability of agricultural systems in partner countries as well as providing benefits to Australian industries.