CEO Column - May

Patricia O'CallaghanHow lucky are we to live in a region abundant with food products growing right on our doorstep?

From sugarcane to pineapples, mangoes to lentils, North Queensland has incredibly rich agricultural assets supported by year-round growing conditions. Not every country is as privileged, which is why this exciting growth sector has untapped potential to export internationally, particularly into Asia.

Agriculture is a major sector within the Townsville North Queensland economy, employing 3,642 people (3.5%) and contributing approximately $604.19 million (3.8%) to Gross Regional Product. Regionally, the industry comprises of key sub-sectors including broad-acre, livestock, horticulture and aquaculture, each representing significant growth opportunities in our region.

Agricultural land in Townsville North Queensland occupies 85% of the region, with 77% of this used for grazing native vegetation. Over 1,600 farms are calculated to be in the area, making up 7% of all farm businesses in Queensland. The strong reputation for quality and safety of the produce coming from these North Queensland farming areas is now driving demand from international markets including China, the Middle East and South Asia.

Recognising this, Townsville Enterprise with North Queensland councils and partners, are currently identifying how the region can take this industry global. The North Queensland Agricultural Market and Supply Chain Study is the first of its kind in Australia and will set the roadmap for the North’s agricultural industry. This Federally funded study aims to determine what local produce to serve which market, how we deliver it and the decisions we need from Government and industry bodies to make this happen.

By taking the North’s food bowl global, not only will those at the heart of the industry reap reward, but benefits will flow across our whole community.

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