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Innovation and collaboration have been identified as the catalysts for unlocking the potential of agriculture in Northern Australia at a conference in Darwin this week.
Twelve forums were conducted as part of the second Developing Northern Australia Conference, with the Food and Agribusiness forum facilitated by the Pilbara Development Commission’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill.
Presenting the forum findings to more than 350 conference delegates from across Australia, Mr Hill said Northern Australia had huge potential for agriculture development.
“The rising middle class in China and other Asian countries will continue to drive demand for safe, fresh and high quality produce,” Mr Hill said.
“By harnessing emerging technologies we can develop new crops that are better suited to the climate and environment of Northern Australia, while also leveraging existing export infrastructure and trade links with Asian markets.”
This strategy aligns with the Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint’s focus on the development of aquaculture and agriculture to diversify the region’s economic base.
“The Pilbara will play a key part in the development of this industry for Northern Australia,” Mr Hill said.
“We’re leading the way in technology with a cropping trial underway using mine dewater to test the feasibility of irrigated agriculture in the Pilbara. This places the region in a strong position to shape the development of the industry.”
Remaining competitive in the global market was also raised as key to growing a sustainable and prosperous industry.
“We are not alone in targeting Chinese investors and markets; China is the major trading partner for more than 120 other nations,” Mr Hill said.
“This is significant for us as we need to be a preferred partner for trading our resources and as a place for future investment.
“The conference has also been a great reminder of the power of collaboration. The Pilbara shares its border with the Kimberley and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia, and also the Northern Territory. The more we can work together to attract major investment and infrastructure development, the more success we will see.”
The Developing Northern Australia Conference concludes on Wednesday 22 June.