October 4, 2023

Former head of NT Farmers, Paul Burke, takes on role at RINA to help drive innovation in Northern Australia's agriculture sector.

Former head of NT Farmers, Paul Burke, takes on role at RINA to help drive innovation in Northern Australia’s agriculture sector.

Former head of NT Farmers, Paul Burke, is now leading the Research Institute of Northern Agriculture (RINA) after being appointed its Steering Committee Independent Chair.

Mr Burke was the CEO of the farmers’ association for four years, and was instrumental in getting mango pickers to help the industry in the Northern Territory to survive the lockdown, when fruit was rotting on the ground in other regions because of picker shortages.

“It was a challenging time, but it showed the best of what we can do. It showed us how to find a pathway through challenging times,” Mr. Burke said.

“The (mango) season is short and we are remote, so there are always challenges even during the best of times.”

Mr. Burke said the RINA would address and find solutions to many of the challenges facing the agricultural industry in Northern Australia.

“I’ve seen how misinformation can damage or hamper an industry’s growth in the NT, such as cotton,” he said.

He said the truth is that cotton doesn’t destroy rivers, but its bad legislation and poor management that damages rivers.

Mr. Burke said for instance with the cotton industry, it’s bad legislation and poor management that destroys rivers and not the product.

“RINA is the vehicle to deliver evidence-based research for a range of issues with agriculture in the Northern Territory as we look for opportunity for growth,” he said.

“I expect research at the institute to have impact not only across Northern Australia, but also across south-east Asia.”

RINA acting Director Sam Banks welcomed Mr. Burke’s appointment and said he has worked closely with the former head of NT Farmers on agricultural issues.

“Mr. Burke has always taken a collaborative approach to management and prefers to take people on the journey will him rather than push an agenda,” Professor Banks said.

“In the field of research and innovation a collaborative approach is what we need.”

RINA was established this year with the appointment of researchers in the fields of biosecurity, broadacre cropping, pastoral and aquaculture.

The institute is based at the Charles Darwin University’s Casuarina campus.

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