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Fund management

At Hort Innovation it’s our job to work with industry to invest the onion levy and Australian Government contributions into initiatives to help growers be as productive and profitable as possible, through the Hort Innovation Onion Fund

What is the onion levy?

The grower-raised statutory onion R&D levy is set at $2.90 per tonne. The marketing levy is set at $1 per tonne.

These levies are collected by the Australian Government and then entrusted to Hort Innovation. It is then Hort Innovation’s responsibility to work with industry to invest the lev – together with Australian Government funds in the case of R&D – into strategic R&D and marketing initiatives.

You can find full details on the levy rates, plus information on how to lodge a return and make a payment with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, on the government website here.

Where do investment ideas come from?

Great investments start with great ideas, so Hort Innovation encourages all growers, industry participants and the research community to share their thoughts and recommendations through the upcoming Strategic Investment  Plan (SIP) consultation process. During the year, issues may emerge that haven’t been captured from the extensive SIP development process so there will still be opportunities to submit ideas for investments.

These opportunities are:

Any submission or suggestion will be reviewed by Hort Innovation to ensure it aligns with industry needs as identified in the SIP. 

How are levy investment decisions made?

Investments specific to the Hort Innovation Onion Fund are guided by the industry’s Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) and Annual Investment Plan (AIP).

The SIP is being updated in 2021 to better reflect the needs of the onion industry. The new SIP will have a five-year life span (2022–2026) and is currently being developed through close consultation with growers, industry participants, and the research community.

The AIP was developed with valuable input from the Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which is made up of growers and other industry representatives as well as industry bodies and other key stakeholders.

The SIP and AIP documents are used as a ‘roadmap’ by the onion SIAP and play a key role in prioritising investments and ideas submitted by growers and other industry participants.

Further details about the AIP, SIP and SIAP can be found below.

Strategic Investment Plan

The onion Strategic Investment Plan is the roadmap that helps guide Hort Innovation’s oversight and management of individual levy industry investment programs. The SIP lays the foundation for decision making in levy investments and represents the balanced interest of the particular industry from which the levy is collected. The most important function of the SIP is to make sure that levy investment decisions align with industry priorities.

Update on refreshing the Strategic Investment Plan

In 2021, Hort Innovation engaged with growers and industry stakeholders to develop refreshed five-year 2022-2026 SIPs for each levy-paying industry within the horticulture sector.

There has been a stakeholder feedback period for all draft SIPs and this has now closed.

We have received a wide range of both positive and constructive feedback and are in the process of incorporating this into the final versions of the SIPs. For some industries, this means we will be undertaking more consultation to ensure the needs of these industries are reflected in the final SIPs.

The SIPs will be published on the Hort Innovation website as they are finalised, and stakeholders will be notified via email and other communication channels.

We thank all people who have provided feedback and who have been involved in the consultation process for the development of the SIPs so far.

Annual Investment Plan

The onion Annual Investment Plan details how levy-funds will be spent over a 12-month period. Investment decisions will be guided by the industry SIP and prioritised based on potential industry impact, as well as availability of levy funds.  

The AIP was developed by Hort Innovation, informed by the SIP and industry consultation, and then discussed with the industry SIAP for feedback and prioritisation.  

Strategic Investment Advisory Panel

To gain industry insights for strategic levy investments in R&D, marketing and trade, Hort Innovation consults with growers through industry-specific Strategic Investment Advisory Panel.

The SIAP consists of industry supply-chain stakeholders, most of whom are levy-paying growers. Panels also include industry representative body representation and, where applicable, a lead agency representative from within the National Horticulture Research Network.

The industry-specific SIAP is in place to discuss investment ideas, in order to provide advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments. The advice they give is guided by the industry's SIP.

The SIAP provides a vital link between meeting the priorities of industry and helping Hort Innovation to make decisions on how, where and when investments need to be made.

What happens next?

The SIAPs recommendations will be used by Hort Innovation to work suitable ideas into project proposals. The proposals are then made public for potential delivery partners to submit responses. Current opportunities are always listed on the Partnership opportunities, in the delivery partners section of this website.

At the end of the process, the responses are assessed, often with the assistance of industry (Evaluation Panel process), and the best delivery partner for the work is chosen. A contract is then issued, and the work begins.

How can I keep track of investments?

Investments in the Hort Innovation Onion Fund are detailed in the Your investments page of this Onion Fund section of Hort Innovation’s website. Resources that are produced by the projects – such as fact sheets and guides – are also available through the Research reports and more page.

Hort Innovation also sends alerts about project updates to its members. Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a Hort Innovation member, but signing up is free here.

The levy-funded communications program, run through the investment Australian onion industry communications (VN18003), also provides regular information on levy-funded activity.

Financial documents

Financial operating statement
July to December 2020/21

Onion Fund consultation

To gain industry insights for strategic levy investments for the Hort Innovation Onion Fund, we will widely consult with growers, industry participants and the research community through the SIP consultation process.

See below a list of SIAP meetings with summaries and the panelists.

Panel meetings and summaries






April 20, 2016

Melbourne, VIC



September 29, 2016

Melbourne, VIC



July 10, 2017

Melbourne, VIC



March 14, 2018

Melbourne, VIC



October 17, 2018

Devonport, TAS



April 2, 2019

Melbourne, 2019



July 15 and 16, 2020



The panel 




Peter Shadbolt

Onions Australia


Dr Richard Jones

Rathlyn Associates


Yvonne Smith

Bowhill Produce


Kees Versteeg



Steve Rathjen

Delta Produce


Tim Groom

Onions Australia


Michael Rettke PIRSA (NHRN Representative) SA
Fund Annual Report 2019/20
Fund Annual Report 2019/20
Strategic Investment Plan
Strategic Investment Plan
SIP – At a glance
SIP – At a glance
Annual Investment Plan
Annual Investment Plan