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WAHU GROWING SUCCESSOur premier West Australian horticulture event built on an already solid format to deliver even more relevant presentations for our industry. Words Tina Buckley, DPIRD presenter Ben Reilly of Steritech.DID you WAHU? The 2023 event was the third event of its type ever held in Perth. It continued to build on a solid format with a talk series supported for the first time by a trade event of 48 industry exhibitors. Devised and hosted by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), it has grown from 164 participants in 2018 to 264 at this event. DPIRD created WAHU (the Western Australia Horticulture Update) as an event that fosters connection between farmers, industry and government. It was envisioned to provide practical solutions to keep industry profitable and sustainable. Held biennially, the event continues to offer opportunities for attendees to learn, connect and work collaboratively on key issues. The 2023 line-up of experts was brought together to encourage industry to build capacity and resilience, adapt to consumer trends, consider environmental factors and adopt technologies that provide value to industry. With 38 speakers over the two days, this year’s theme was how to implement innovative practical technology to improve horticultural practices from grower to consumer. “ Feedback showed that the key learnings identified by participants from the event were understanding the importance of technology and how it can assist to adapt business capacity”Stonefruit WA’s Ross Anile with Pomewest’s Nardia Stacy; a welcome to country by respected Elder Barry Winmar; the RSM stand was part of the vegetablesWA collection of exhibitors, with Fair Farms in the background; the latest tech was on display in the trade area and locals could talk direct to the agents. “ The number of connections made at the event was exceptional, with 750 new connections, with an average of five new networks per attendee”Key Learnings The event and feedback demonstrated the value of the event to stakeholders and collaborators. Feedback showed that the key learnings identified by participants from the event were understanding the importance of technology and how it can assist to adapt business capacity, it included: • To be more sustainable • Cold chain system traceability and management for increased productivity and profitability • The importance of industry led research. The number of connections made at the event was exceptional, with 750 new connections, with an average of five new networks per attendee. Attendees also had a high number of actions that they are likely to implement post event, with an average of two to three projected actions per business. Most exciting The variety of presentations and networking were the main highlights of the event, with participant ratings demonstrating that overall satisfaction was high. The most highly rated presentations were: • Sam Bailey – a farmer, pilot and best-selling author. As an entertaining closing speaker, Sam inspired us by sharing how he beat the odds to achieve his dreams of becoming a farmer, learning to ride a four-wheel bike; devising a hoist to get into farm machinery and ultimately learnt to fly an ultralight – all in his wheelchair! • Mike Lee – principal futurist for The Future Market and a frequent global speaker on the future of food. Mike showed us how artificial intelligence relates to food production today and where this could lead into the future. • Irrigation and Carbon sessions from DPIRD – staff from DPIRD covered how to reduce water usage through water use efficiency through practices such as, improving sandy soils through clay, the use of marginally saline water and soil moisture monitoring equipment. DPIRD also gave a presentation on how carbon emissions are reported, how this is benchmarked and ideas on how to reduce the outputs. • Tristan Kitchener – management consultant and owner of Kitchener Partners Pty Ltd. Tristan gave an interesting presentation on consumer trends, and the impact it has on purchasing fresh produce. MORE INFORMATION All the presentations will soon be available online. Watch this space. “ Mike Lee – futurist for The Future Market and a frequent global speaker on the future of food. Mike showed us how artificial intelligence relates to food production today and where this could lead in the future”Rohan Prince of DPIRD asks a question during a panel discussion; vegetablesWA RDO Chi Nguyen talks with Amanda Higgens of Fair Fairs, who was visiting from Queensland; the Hon. Jackie Jarvis, Minister for Agriculture and Food, gave the official welcome; and WA Citrus and Hort Innovation identity Bronwyn Walsh chatting with visitors to her stand.