A study into North Queensland’s agricultural sector to identify how producers can export to the expanding Asian market will be undertaken in a project that has been dubbed the first of its kind in Australia.
The Federal Government’s Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) has funded the study, which will undertaken by KPMG, Premise and AEC in consultation with Townsville Enterprise.
The North Queensland Agricultural Market and Supply Chain Study is a market-led initiative that has been dubbed the first of its type in Australia.
The study will investigate how North Queensland is currently positioned to supply and export internationally to ensure local producers are well informed to maximise production opportunities and meet future international agricultural demand.
Currently, the agricultural sector contributes 3,642 jobs (3.5 per cent) and about $604.19 million (3.8 per cent) to Gross Regional Product to the Townsville/North Queensland economy.
KPMG Partner Robert Poole said he believed the initiative would provide knowledge and insights to drive future economic prosperity for North Queensland.
“Regions need to invest in their people and infrastructure to ensure they are appropriately ready for supplying to the world,” Mr Poole said.
“We have selected a team to support and work collaboratively on this study with expertise across agribusiness, supply chain analysis, trade access, government relations and stakeholder engagement both in Australia and Asia.”
Townsville Enterprise, Burdekin Shire Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council and industry partners identified the need for collective action, to define how Queensland’s agriculture sector could best position itself and take advantage of Asia’s emerging middle class phenomenon.
Townsville Enterprise Policy and Investment Director Michael McMillan said it was vital for the region to identify the key products and markets that local primary producers should target.
“In order to maximise future return on investment and consolidate Australia’s international reputation for high quality, safe and clean food, our region’s primary producers must be equipped with the necessary intelligence to meet market demand,” Mr McMillan said.
“North Queensland’s agricultural sector represents significant growth opportunities for the region, with a strong reputation for quality and safety driving demand from high growth international markets including China, the Middle East, South Asia and ASEAN. “
CRCNA Chair Sheriden Morris said there was continued growth in Asian markets for Australian produce.
“If we can identify opportunities that capture even a small portion of that, the potential benefits are enormous,” Ms Morris said.
“The framework developed in this project to assess growth opportunities and define high value products in international markets can be applied to any region of Northern Australia, enabling them to undertake their own assessment and realise the opportunities within their region.”
North Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald said the study would deliver positive outcomes for North Queensland.
The findings are expected to be handed down within 12 months.