The North Looking North - Taking North Queensland Agriculture to Asia

Today the CRC for Developing Northern Australia, Senator Matthew Canavan and Senator Ian Macdonald announced that the North Queensland councils and Townsville Enterprise have received a grant to position the North Queensland agricultural industry to take advantage of the opportunities in Asia. 

The market-led initiative is the first of its type in Australia and will be project managed by Townsville Enterprise, who have commissioned KPMG to undertake the research and assisted by locally based firms, Premise and AEC.

The objective of the North Queensland Agricultural Market and Supply Chain Study is to 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.

The agricultural sector is critical to the Townsville North Queensland economy, contributing 3,642 jobs (3.5%) and approximately $604.19 million (3.8%) to Gross Regional Product.

Townsville Enterprise, Burdekin Shire Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Townsville City Council, Charters Towers Regional Council, Palm Island Shire Council and industry partners had identified the need for collective action, working to define how Queensland’s agriculture sector can best position itself and take advantage of Asia’s emerging middle class phenomenon.

Townsville Enterprise Director – Policy & Investment Director, Michael McMillan said it’s 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,” said Mr McMillan.

“The study’s demand-led approach will provide relevant domestic governments, stakeholders and producers with the critical intelligence required to guide long-term planning and informed decision making, supportive of sector development, infrastructure investment and industry coordination.

“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. “

Senator for Queensland, the Hon Ian Macdonald said that, “This study, and the positive outcomes it will deliver across Northern Australia, is exactly why the Coalition Government created and funded the $75 million Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia in the 2015 Northern Australia White Paper.”

“I am delighted that the Turnbull Government determined that it be headquartered in Townsville.”

KPMG Partner, Robert Poole said he was looking forward to getting the study underway.

“We believe this is an important initiative that will provide the necessary knowledge and insights to drive future economic prosperity for North Queensland,” said Mr Poole.

“Regions need to invest in their people and infrastructure to ensure they are appropriately ready for supplying to the world.

“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.”

CRCNA Chair Sheriden Morris said that there is 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,” said Ms Morris.

“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.”

While the primary focus of the study is North Queensland, it is anticipated the results will uncover far reaching opportunity and complimentary activities taking place outside of the region. The findings from the study are expected to be handed down within 12 months.

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