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An Integrated Assessment of the Horticulture Sector in Northern Australia to Inform Future Development

Sangha, K. K., Ahammad, R., Mazahar, M. S., Hall, M., Owens, G., Kruss, L., Verrall, G., Moro, J. and Dickinson, G. R. (2022) An Integrated Assessment of the Horticulture Sector in Northern Australia to Inform Future Development. Sustainability, 14 (18). p. 11647. ISSN 2071-1050


Publisher URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/14/18/11647


The horticulture sector in northern Australia, covering north of Western Australia (WA), Northern Territory (NT), and north Queensland (QLD), contributes $1.6 billion/year to the Australian economy by supplying diverse food commodities to meet domestic and international demand. To date, the Australian Government has funded several studies on developing the north’s agriculture sector, but these primarily focused on land and water resources and omitted an integrated, on-ground feasibility analysis for including farmers’/growers’ perspectives. This study is the first of its kind in the north for offering a detailed integrated assessment, highlighting farmers’ perspectives on the current state of the north’s horticulture sector, and related challenges and opportunities. For this, we applied a bottom-up approach to inform future agriculture development in the region, involving a detailed literature review and conducting several focus group workshops with growers and experts from government organisations, growers’ associations, and regional development agencies. We identified several key local issues pertaining to crop production, availability of, and secure access to, land and water resources, and workforce and marketing arrangements (i.e., transport or processing facilities, export opportunities, biosecurity protocols, and the role of the retailers/supermarkets) that affect the economic viability and future expansion of the sector across the region. For example, the availability of the workforce (skilled and general) has been a challenge across the north since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Similarly, long-distance travel for farm produce due to a lack of processing and export facilities in the north restricts future farm developments. Any major investment should be aligned with growers’ interests. This research highlights the importance of understanding and incorporating local growers’ and researchers’ perspectives, applying a bottom-up approach, when planning policies and programs for future development, especially for the horticulture sector in northern Australia and other similar regions across the globe where policy makers’ perspectives may differ from farmers.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Keywords:agriculture; horticulture; economy; food; markets; northern Australia; research and development; supply chain; workforce
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural economics
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Special aspects of agriculture as a whole > Sustainable agriculture
Plant culture > Horticulture. Horticultural crops
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:18 Oct 2022 06:06
Last Modified:18 Oct 2022 06:06

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