2017 has been another extremely busy yet successful year for woolgrowers and AWI, particularly with wool prices hitting record levels.
AWI’s on farm R&D team saw the return of Dr Jane Littlejohn to General Manager Research, along with a significant research breakthrough that debunked the ‘myth’ that wool is a skin allergen. As part of AWI’s fibre advocacy program, these findings will deliver returns to growers by positioning wool as the fibre of choice to deliver skin health benefits and creating a new market segment for superfine wool for dermatitis sufferers.
AWI’s ongoing commitment to its breech flystrike prevention program has resulted in the new pain relief product, Buccalgesic, recently being registered for mulesing. Buccalgesic is one of the first commercial pre-operative pain relief solutions for the sheep industry. This year AWI also released a new Managing Breech Flystrike Manuals to assist growers.
AWI is continuing to fund its popular programs; Lifetime Ewe Management, shearer and wool handler training and wild dog control groups, that all deliver great returns to growers. Over 3500 woolgrowers have participated in LTEM to date, lifting weaning rates on average by 10% and decreasing ewe mortality by 30%. AWI is committed to continuing the success of LTEM by supporting a further 1500 LTEM graduates by 2019. AWI’s commitment to wild dog control has seen over 160 community wild dog control groups supported to date, with 43 groups currently being supported. AWI is also continuing its important investment in wild dog control coordinators. 2016/17 saw the number of shearer and wool handlers trained increase by 23% to 5,236. This year for the first time, AWI funded training in the Shear-Jitsu technique, the new way to perform the catch and drag.
AWI’s work for growers hasn’t stopped at the farm gate though, with 2017 bringing in some of AWI’s biggest marketing collaborations to date. With 99% of Australian wool consumers located outside of Australia, AWI through its 13 global offices, have worked with key global brands to promote the benefits of wool to consumers worldwide. Standout collaborations include the likes of Tommy Hilfiger/Rafael Nadal, National Geographic, ICICLE, Burton Snowboarding and the World Surfing League. These collaborations generate global demand for Australian wool, which is critical for a thriving industry and for increasing returns for growers.
AWI’s Hong Kong Resources Centre continues to attract new and existing partners from educational institutions, manufacturers, designers, brands and retailers. The increased traffic has exceeded expectations in successfully profiling wool to a wider audience. In China, AWI are working closely with the major textile institutions and are soon to open a wool education centre with Donghua University, to ensure wool is at the forefront of textile education programs. AWI is also continuing work in product innovation with advances made in knitted sneakers and waterproofing.
Other major investments for woolgrowers in 2017 include build of the online Wool Exchange Portal (WEP) to increase returns to woolgrowers and promote competition, choice and transparency in the wool selling system to benefit growers. As well as investigating blue sky robotics technology for wool harvesting to reduce cost of production for growers.
AWI is always looking at new and improved ways of engaging and communicating with woolgrowers. In 2016 we launched The Yarn – a free, fortnightly podcast featuring interviews with staff and networks around Australia and the world. The latest episodes of The Yarn are now available to download or subscribe to at the iTunes Store or at www.wool.com/podcast