Horticulture strategic plan needed for industry growth
28th December 2015
The Voice of Horticulture has called for Horticulture Innovation Australia and the Federal Government to fund a strategic plan before finalising Pool 2 investment.
The Australian horticulture industry is on track to become the second largest agriculture industry but, according to the Voice of Horticulture, it needs a strategic plan to ensure that industry investment in research development and marketing is focussed on enabling the capture of domestic and export opportunities.
The horticulture industry is currently valued at almost $10 billion at the farm gate, employs more than 60,000 workers and includes more than 20,000 enterprises.
Chair of the Voice of Horticulture, Tania Chapman believes that the industry has the potential to double in size by 2025. “The signing of Free Trade Agreements in North Asia and the reduction in subsidies by competitor nations will translate into significant demand for quality produce from an increasingly affluent Asian consumer. There is an opportunity to grow exports five-fold within 10 years” Ms. Chapman said.
According to Ms. Chapman, “An increasing interest in a healthy diet and population growth will allow domestic consumption to grow 25 per cent over the next 10 years. However slow but real progress is now being made on market access and Australian growers look forward to a significant expansion in exports.”
The recent survey of Peak Industry Bodies in horticulture has suggested that several industries are forecasting substantial growth in production. Almonds, avocados, blueberries, citrus and cherries are all forecasting increased production in excess of 30%.
Ross Skinner, CEO of the Australian Almond Board, has observed the rapid increase in the production and export of almonds. “The growth in Australian almond exports has been prodigious and has resulted from the industry’s careful planning and implementation of the market development strategies on a whole of industry basis” he said. “Australia is now supplying over 50 world markets and is seen as a viable alternate supplier of quality product to the Californian industry that dominate global production but whose crops have suffered during their drought.” Almond exports have grown from 20,500 tonnes in 2010 worth $124 million to 60,000 tonnes worth $740 million in 2015.
Horticulture Innovation Australia, the industry’s research and development corporation, is now a grower owned organisation. Since the transition to HIA many growers have been calling for accountability and transparency in terms of how their levies are spent. Strategic co-investment funding which matches external funding with Australian Government funds allows investment in areas of strategic importance and will potentially have $42 million available.
The Voice of Horticulture, representing the 34 member industries believes that a strategic plan is necessary to guide the establishment of and focus for these longer term investment funds.
Ms Chapman believes that the strategic plan will contribute to a paradigm shift in exports for some industries, improve competitiveness in global markets, and educate consumers and the government about the role and value of the sector. “For generations the horticulture industry has supported the economic and social prosperity of many of Australia’s rural and regional communities. A HIA strategic plan is critical to increasing revenues and lowering costs for growers and ensuring a high rate of return on invested funds” she said.
In its’ recent Annual Report Horticulture Innovation Australia is committed to ensuring that strategic co-investment funding (from state governments, academia, private industry and the CSIRO) reflects the needs and priorities of levy payers.
Ms Chapman said “The Board and members of the Voice of Horticulture are insistent that a strategic plan is required to balance the short and long term high risk and low risk strategic and adaptive research projects.”