The Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday (MIW) region is set to expand as a major agricultural hub with a new report providing a roadmap of opportunities for local agribusiness.
Speaking at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market in Mackay, Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the region’s current Gross Regional Value of $1.39 billion could increase significantly if its full potential was realised, leading to more jobs for locals.
“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:
- broad acre cropping
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the opportunity to super-charge job-creating agricultural industries was exciting for the region’s future.
“The release of this report will be the catalyst for the Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) to engage with all levels of government and industry stakeholders to map out the next steps,” Mr Furner said.
“This will include leveraging investment in regional branding and agri-tourism, developing export markets, infrastructure, and transport and logistics.
“Achieving success as envisaged by the report will require a high level of coordination and collaboration across the industry, however the benefits will be significant for everybody along the supply chain.”
The report is the result of two years of work involving hundreds of stakeholders.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue its valuable partnership with GW3; Regional Development Australia; Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday Regional Councils; the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure & Planning and the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to keep advancing the actions in the report.
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 Greater Whitsunday Alliance ‘s (GW3) 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.
“GW3 with partners RDA, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA), North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) and in-kind support from DAF will deliver this project later this year, aimed at identifying 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.”
Greater Whitsunday Food Network president Deb McLucas said the network was working to grow opportunities by building a strong regional brand, helping to create value-adding opportunities and new markets for farmers and supporting the adoption of sustainable farming practices.
“This is supported by the Growing Greater Whitsunday Agrifood Action Plan and we are very excited to work with the GW3 Alliance and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to achieve positive outcomes for farmers and other stakeholders in the region.”
You can view the Growing Greater Whitsunday Agrifood report at http://www.greaterwhitsundayalliance.com.au/publications