Australia’s agricultural sector faces a number of challenges, according to the agri business and farming group.
Key points:Agriculture is now in a more fragmented and dynamic state than in the past The sector needs to find a way to keep up with demand from more advanced industries such as the automotive and IT sectorsAgricultural shadow cloth is a cheaper alternative to traditional cotton farmingThe government’s focus on agri products is a welcome step but it still needs to be more strategicAbout one in four Australian farmers are still farming cotton, with most of them operating in marginal and regional areas, the agriculture industry group says.
Agriculturists believe the Australian agri food sector has a key role to play in managing the transition to a global economy, particularly as the Australian economy evolves.
In a 2016 study, the Australian Institute of Agricultural Research (AIAR) estimated that a shift to an agri economy would increase agricultural productivity by around 30 per cent in the short-term and by as much as 30 per part-time worker over the long-term.
“Agric-based farming is the fastest-growing sector of Australian agriculture and is projected to continue to grow rapidly in the medium-term,” the report said.
The report said that the agribusiness sector was experiencing a resurgence in recent years, with new entrants entering the sector in droves.
The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that, between 2009 and 2016, the number of farmers in the agricultural sector increased by 9.7 per cent.
However, the agricultural shadow cloth industry is in the midst of a massive growth spurt.
It’s been predicted to grow from around 200,000 to more than 300,000 workers over the next decade, and that the sector could employ more than 500,000 people.
“The agri shadow cloth sector is currently in the middle of a dramatic growth spout,” the study said.
“It’s the fastest growing sector in Australia.”
Agricostats, the industry body representing the industry, said it’s the biggest agricultural sector in the country.
“There is a real need to create a more holistic and integrated vision for the future of agriculture,” chief executive Rob Wilson said.
He said the industry needed to focus on two areas: providing quality agricultural services to farmers and supporting an agricultural workforce with a wide range of skills.
“We have a very strong workforce here in Australia,” Mr Wilson said, and we need to ensure that they are well trained, competent and supported.
“The report noted that, although there were some good trends in the agro-service sector in recent times, the agritourism sector faced a number challenges.”
While the sector is growing and we are seeing some of the largest-ever increases in productivity, there are some areas where we need a little bit more focus on how we manage this growing growth and how we support our growing workforce,” Mr Hamilton said.