The University of Melbourne is leading a new Hort Innovation-funded project that is evaluating the impact of providing additional training and support to industry development officers (IDOs) engaged in Hort Innovation projects, with the aim of demonstrating the benefits that can be achieved through enhanced capacity and capability.

The research undertaken in VG21002 – Demonstrating the benefits of building capability and capacity in extension delivery in the vegetable industry –  will focus on VegNET 3.0, and the additional training and support that is being provided to the National Coordinator and 10 Regional Development Officers (RDOs) involved in this project.

The direct intended outcome of the project is for Hort Innovation, and other agriculture innovation stakeholders, to be better informed in relation to the most effective methods and approaches for building professional development for extension personnel into extension project designs

IDOs/RDOs play a vital role in the effective delivery of many of Hort Innovation’s projects, and recent internal reviews have determined that IDOs frequently lack core knowledge and experience of extension practice and theory and that this limits effectiveness of project delivery.

By generating knowledge on what works and what doesn’t work for building IDOs capacity and capability, the findings from this project will create the opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness across Hort Innovation’s full portfolio of extension projects.

The project’s findings will inform extension practice more broadly in Australian and international agriculture and will contribute to scholarly knowledge in the area of managing extension within various agricultural innovation systems.

The project is expected to be completed by 2026.

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AUSVEG is delivering the third phase of VegNET 3.0, the vegetable industry extension program that is run by growers, for growers.

The new VegNET program is being led and coordinated by AUSVEG, with on-the-ground extension to be undertaken by trained and experienced regional development officers in organisations with strong grower networks in vegetable producing regions.