A cooperative systems model for the Mackay regional sugar industry : SRDC Final report MSA003
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In 2000-2001 the Mackay sugar industry embarked on a path of rapid and major change, driven by a depressed world sugar market and specific regional problems of drought and disease. The changes were initially directed purely at cost reduction, and employed a raft of technologies including a web portal to reduce staff numbers and streamline grower-harvester-miller interfaces.Following the first round of changes, the industry established a Consultative Group comprising representatives from all industry sectors to review subsequent changes and plan for the future. This forum led to discussions of whole of industry issues and concepts of value chain management. The group realised that the technologies that had been introduced, particularly the web portal and its underlying database, could be used to add value and integrate operations across industry sectors. The Cooperative Systems project was initiated to develop value chain management strategies for the region underpinned by technology. The technological component would consist of web portal, shared regional database and software tools that would link the members of the value chain and facilitate the sharing of information for mutual benefit.A project team drawn from Mackay Sugar, Canegrowers, QMCHA and BSES was formed. Reference groups of growers and harvester operators were appointed to work with sub-groups of the project team to develop strategies, design systems and evaluate outputs for the major value chain sectors of farming, harvesting and milling. This consultative and participative approach was maintained throughout the project to ensure that outputs were relevant to end users and addressed their priorities. The existing Consultative Group was also used for ongoing evaluation at a whole of industry leadership level.