THE Growing Greater Whitsunday Agrifood report aims to be a roadmap to get more Queensland agricultural exports to more foreign markets.
The Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region is set to expand as a major agricultural hub with the new report showing the way to opportunities for local agribusiness.
Minister for agricultural industry development Mark Furner said the report should be a catalyst for the Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) to engage with government and industry stakeholders to map out the next steps.
“This will include leveraging investment in regional branding and agri-tourism, developing export markets, infrastructure, and transport and logistics,” he said.
“Achieving success as envisaged by the report will require a high level of co-ordination and collaboration across the industry, however the benefits will be significant for everybody along the supply chain.”
GW3 interim CEO Kylie Porter said the GGWA strategy highlights the opportunity to expand exports in aquaculture, horticulture and grains from the region.
“Underpinning this strategy is GW3’s successful funding bid for $212,300 from the CRC Northern Australia,” she said.
“The CRCNA Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday Agribusiness Export Supply Chain Mapping Study will inform the delivery of the GGWA Strategy to develop regional export development plans and promote a Regional Agrifood Export Readiness Program.”
Ms Porter said GW3, with partners RDA, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, North Queensland Bulk Ports, and support from DAF would deliver this project later this year. The GGWA Strategy aims to identify wider markets and export opportunities.
“The next stage of the strategy will develop detailed roadmaps aimed at accelerating growth opportunities, particularly in aquaculture and horticulture and exports of high value products from the region,” she said.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the region’s current gross regional value of $1.39bn could increase significantly if its full potential was realised.
“The area has a lot of advantages being close to the rapidly-expanding Asian market, with a consistent climate, fertile soils and a well-established agricultural supply chain, all of which position it perfectly to ramp up production,” Mrs Gilbert said.
“The Growing Greater Whitsunday Agrifood report for Stage 1 ‘Planting the Seed’ brings together all of the aspects of the existing agricultural value chain in the region, and identifies the diverse range of opportunities which could see the sector grow well beyond its current output.”
Industries suitable for expansion include aquaculture, beef, biofutures, broad acre cropping and horticulture.