2000 new jobs could be created by unlocking $3 billion of unmet market demand in agriculture in North Queensland, according to a new study.
The North Queensland Agricultural Market and Supply Chain Study, which was commissioned by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, covers the Townsville, Hinchinbrook, Burdekin, Charters Towers and Palm Island regions.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the study was the first of its type conducted across the region and demonstrated the value of the Government’s Cooperative Research Centres.
“This study recommends targeting the development of the beef, avocado, macadamia, soybean and on-shore aquaculture sectors as offering the most in future growth and export returns,” Minister Andrews said.
“It highlights the opportunities that can be created when you bring industry and research together, which is a fundamental part of the CRC Program.
“$1.1 billion in funding has been committed to CRCs since the Liberal National Government came into office in 2013 and is part of our commitment to Australian industry, strengthening our economic growth and helping to create 1.25 million jobs in the next five years.”
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the study will boost outcomes for Northern Australia.
“Transitioning land use and building value in North Queensland’s supply chains have been identified as critical to fulfilling the market potential of these sectors,” Minister Canavan said.
“It essential to the development of Northern Australia that we identify and embrace opportunities to build regional economies and create jobs.
“This study has identified emerging market opportunities in Asia and the Middle East and highlighted what needs to be done to grasp those opportunities.”
Next steps identified in the study will include establishing co-ops, working with organisations such as Austrade on policy positions, infrastructure investment and industry coordination on a state-wide agricultural mapping process.
The findings will also inform other key projects important to the region’s future, such as the Hells Gates Dam Project.
The study was led by Townsville’s peak economic development body, Townsville Enterprise Ltd and supported by the Burdekin Shire Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Charters Towers and Palm Island Councils.
North Queensland is already a major agricultural producing region of Australia. In 2016-17 the region's agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors contributed over $1 billion to total gross regional product of $15.5 billion.