Director of Wool Innovation - Ed Dugan - Joins the FIDC Team
The Falkland Island’s first ever Director of Wool Innovation is getting down to work, in a new post supported by FIDC and steered by the specially-created Wool Innovation Group.
Mr Ed Dugan is a fifth-generation sheep and wool farmer. Now arrived from Australia - where worked with the World Federation of Merino Breeders, the NSW Business Chamber, and most recently as CEO of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders - Mr Dugan is, says FIDC’s MD Martin Slater, “very well equipped to bring innovation and resilience to our industry”.
The appointment stems from FIDC’s Innovation Programme, and the well-received ‘value-adding’ consultant’s report last year, that looked at the whole scope of the Falkland’s wool sector. He will be working to the direction of the Development Corporation and under the wise counsel of the Wool Innovation Group – made up of key stakeholders in this vital industry.
His two-year programme is expected to increase the financial returns to forward-looking growers, and to secure a future for the Island’s industry in what can be a volatile international market. In Ed Dugan’s view from his first week here; “there’s a great product and progressive, hard-working farmers to work with.”
Although familiar with the Falkland Islands wool type before his arrival, he has still been surprised and delighted by the characteristics of the local product;
“Having traded and processed wools from around the world, test results speak for themselves. But, the handle of the FI wools that I have seen is quite special and a trait which will be a focus in my discussions with international wool merchants and textile mills, keen to source new origins of supply” enthuses Ed.
With wool prices on a high, this programme is designed to extract the maximum farm-gate returns now and in the near term - but also with a focus on continuous improvement to see the industry through harder times.
Getting the process up and running, Mr Dugan will be working on negotiating competitive freight arrangements. Attention will then be on the warehouse activities, followed by upgrade for wool preparation, classing and description to match international standards.
Standing behind this will be work to establish benchmarking: “The return to better greasy wool prices allows the grower to focus on using management tools applicable to that farm enterprise in a cost effective manner. Growers can invest the better returns by using the combination of visual and objective sheep testing and field trials” he explains.
This approach, says Mr Dugan, allows the grower to not only reflect on the results, but to fine-tune breeding plans to which meat qualities and/or wool characteristics they consider suitable for the level of management and type of farming operation they wish to run.
With this benchmarking as the focus, and a busy time ahead, Mr Dugan will be at the National Stud Flock Ram sale this March, and is ready to tell the world all the good news about the Falkland Islands sheep and wool industry.