Durum Breeding Australia (DBA), a national durum breeding program delivered by New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and the University of Adelaide in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), announced on 31st August that Australian Grain Technologies Pty Ltd (AGT) has been awarded the license to take the durum breeding program forward.

GRDC, NSW DPI and the University of Adelaide have co-invested in the DBA program since 2008, successfully delivering new durum varieties with improved yield and quality attributes for the Australian durum production areas.

In 2020, the DBA partners took the opportunity to leverage commercial breeding sector investment, technologies and capabilities in cereal breeding and sought proposals from the commercial breeding sector to licence the germplasm from the DBA program to continue durum breeding.
Australian breeding company, AGT, is already actively engaged in commercial durum breeding managing a program attached to its core cereal breeding activities. The addition of the DBA germplasm into AGT’s breeding program demonstrates the increasing value of this crop to grain growers in both northern and southern regions.

Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Adelaide said the University’s focus on durum breeding over many years had made an important contribution to the industry’s viability.
“The University of Adelaide is proud of its long association with durum breeding and its enduring legacy, which can be found throughout the Australian durum industry today,” said Professor Middelberg. “With our focus on pre-breeding research, studying the specific traits that are needed for tolerance and resilience to Australian growing conditions, the University’s strong connection with industry will continue.
“We will work closely with Australia’s leaders in durum – such as San Remo, AGT, and the Southern Australia Durum Growers Association – to ensure the very best outcomes for industry and for consumers nation-wide, applying world-class science to add further value to an industry that is critically important to Australian agriculture and the economy,” said Professor Middelberg.

AGT Chief Executive Officer and Head of Breeding, Haydn Kuchel, said he was pleased that the company had been successful in securing the germplasm and looked forward to leveraging new opportunities for Australian durum grain growers.
“Breeding advanced durum has been part of AGT’s story for 20 years and we have successfully developed several elite varieties for Australian conditions,” said Mr Kuchel.
“Taking on new germplasm from the DBA will allow us to keep delivering improved durum varieties beyond Bitalli and Westcourt, which have become the leading performers in the south and north respectively.”
“Using cutting-edge breeding technologies to increase efficiency and genetic gain means we offer Australian durum growers the benefits of a globally competitive breeding company,” said Mr Kuchel. “The work we do to improve yields and resilience reflects our passion for seeing Australian rural communities and businesses thrive.
“AGT is excited about continuing to work with durum growers and manufacturers to advance this high value crop’s impact and importance in Australian agriculture.”

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