The growing Australian population will expect an adequate and reliable supply of food, grown domestically, supporting Australian businesses and families. Exclusive reliance on imported products is to be avoided.
Asian neighbours with limited arable land, burgeoning populations and a growing sophistication in food consumption present an extraordinary supply opportunity to Australia – market share in the “food century”.
Provision of year round reliable water is critical in securing market share and the future of agronomy in Australia.
West of the Great Dividing Range in Central and Northern Queensland there is an estimated 15 million hectares of Vertosol (black soil) plains said to be equivalent to half of Australia’s entire prime farming land.
Where there is security of water, farmers will follow, requiring a diverse range of support services, plus continuing research and development. As agricultural hubs develop so do food processing enterprises evolve.
An expansion in agricultural production north means the proposed new food and fibre region will relieve pressure on the Murray Darling Basin while complementing both it and the Ord River scheme. It will grow as a mosaic of accessible regional economic development hubs, eventually connected to a proposed inland express rail freight line to northern ports and Asian markets, or export charter air-freight services ex Longreach.
Start-up collaboration between farmers, farming groups and leading agricultural scientists will lead to best practice, sustainable farm design, production and water efficiencies, minimum tillage and rotation cropping, stubble retention, on-farm research and responsible guardianship of the land for generations to follow.
Some regions, more remote and largely undeveloped have potential to gain accreditation in organic food production. The Etheridge Shire is actively promoting this option and studies have shown the gross margins for a cross section of farming enterprises in the shire would be comparable to the Ord Scheme, given water.
Farm export earnings in Australia are valued at $34.4 billion annually.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has projected 100 million tons of grain output by the year 2020. Australia provides 15% of the world wheat trade to 40 countries. We understand 100 million tonnes of soy and corn is required by China alone. There will be an 80% increase in world meat demand by 2030. Australia exports 60% of its beef, sheep and wheat products and this is expected to be 80% within 20 years.
Global demand for food is doubling every 30 years
Austrade will provide further confirmation of market opportunities.