The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed a decision by Coles to allocate $50 million over five years in grants and interest-free loans to farmers who are keen to improve on-farm efficiency and develop new products. The Coles Nurture Fund, announced today in Werribee, Victoria, will be open to small and medium sized farm businesses, food producers and manufacturers. NFF CEO Simon Talbot said the announcement, from one of Australia’s major retailers, recognised the importance of investment in the farm sector to boost productivity and competitiveness. “Strong, private investment in the farm sector offers many potential benefits, including better infrastructure, uptake of new technology and improved protection for seasonally-affected businesses from income volatility,” Mr Talbot said. “For example, a grower might invest in hydroponics at height, lifting worker productivity and reducing water-use. Immediately, benefits can flow from reduced costs, and the ability for farmers to produce more, with less, for longer. “We look forward to seeing more detail around the Nurture Fund, which, if implemented well, could be a win-win for all participants across the food supply chain,” Mr Talbot said. The proposed five year project will be open to businesses with less than $25 million in annual revenue and fewer than 50 full-time employees. Initial rounds are now open and close on Friday 12 June 2015. For more information, visit the Coles Nurture Fund https://www.supplierportal.coles.com.au/csp/wps/portal/web/ColesNurtureFund[website].