PR - Achieving Sustained Improvements In Profitability In Beef Enterprises And Regions In South Africa And Australia
Contemporary Research and Development (R&D) projects are increasingly concerned with setting outcome targets such as measurable improvements in enterprise profit, industry growth, environmental health or resource use efficiency. This paper describes the application and ongoing development of a ‘Sustainable Improvement and Innovation’ (SI&I) model for designing and managing medium to longer term R&D projects to achieve and sustain outcomes, improvements and innovations in agricultural enterprises, industries and regions. The model is applied in two Beef Profit Partnerships (BPP) projects, one by emerging farmers in two provinces in South Africa, and the other by commercial beef producers in Australia. The South African project was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research over five years; the Australian project is funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies and is in the second of seven years. The primary objective of both projects is to accelerate the rate of adoption of new technologies and to measure and monitor the productivity and profitability outcomes in farming systems and in the broader region. Another objective is to undertake adoption science research on this process and to measure and monitor partnership and capacity building outcomes. Through the use of the model in the South African BPP project, measurable improvements in profit per beef enterprise, each year, in the participating communities and regions have been achieved, and these improvements have been sustained across an increasing number of cattle enterprises and communities. Further, the SI&I process implemented as an integral part of the BPP project has been demonstrated to lead to measurable, positive economic outcomes, even over a relatively short period. The SI&I model is presented in detail, the results from the South African application are reported, and the value of the model and its methods for extending the approach to Australia and elsewhere are discussed. Conclusions are made about the application of the SI&I model in R&D projects focused on high rates and scales of impact.
Keywords: R&D projects; outcomes; continuous improvement; continuous innovation; partnerships; systems.