news The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced three new initiatives lead by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) that promise to bring Australian agriculture fully into the digital age.
Aimed to transform Australian agriculture and help the industry take advantage of growth opportunities, the new measures include an incubator for agricultural startups and technologies, a Digital Agriculture Service and an online platform for Australian farmers.
According to a statement announcing the measures, the initiatives are underpinned by partnerships with the National Broadband Network (NBN) and other big names in technology, communications and finance.
“Through these initiatives we are seeking to facilitate disruption within the farm sector, and help farmers seize the benefits of faster connectivity,” said NFF CEO, Simon Talbot. “Australian agriculture is entering a new growth phase with the potential to generate $1.2 trillion between now and 2030, while this year alone agriculture is predicted to reap a record farm-gate return of $57.6 billion.”
The NFF’s new Online Platform will to deliver up-to-date food and agribusiness news, weather and market information; promote best management practice; and provide member benefits, blogs, commentary. Planned for launch in May 2016, the platform will also provide a voice for the agriculture industry, via campaigns and live policy development.
“As the country’s most geographically dispersed industry, agriculture can gain real value by engaging more effectively online,” Talbot said. “The Online Platform is a major investment by the NFF in ensuring farmers get the most from improved connectivity.”
Announcing that Vodafone has invested in the platform, Dan Lloyd, the firm’s Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, said: “We are excited to be contributing our global expertise in communications technologies to help support the digital future of Australia’s agricultural sector through this partnership.”
The NFF, in collaboration with Accenture, will also develop what it is calling the Digital Agriculture Service (DAS). This will securely deliver new digital technologies and services to help ensure Australia’s agriculture sector remains globally competitive.
Harnessing Accenture’s global capabilities, the NFF plans to help Australian farmers make better data-based operational decisions that “optimise yield and boost revenue while minimising expenses”.
The DAS will be a global first for an industry-owned suite of tools, the NFF said.
“By creating a new digital service by farmers, for farmers, the NFF, in collaboration with Accenture, can help avoid the scenario playing out overseas where farmers are overwhelmed by complex and disconnected data locked away by individual service providers,” Talbot said.
By taking advantage of major innovation trends such as Big Data and the Internet of Things, tools like the DAS have the potential to revolutionise agriculture and add as much as $5 billion to farm gate returns in coming years, the NFF said.
The service should launch for all farmers in 2016, commencing with specific solutions for the cotton, beef and horticulture sectors, with other commodities to follow soon after.
The last of the three measures – dubbed ‘Sprout’ – is a new innovation hub for agricultural technologies, that will “identify, foster and promote the best new ideas in the food and agribusiness arena”.
The NFF said that, alogn with Crowe Horwath parent company Findex, it has assembled an expert assessment panel and is developing relationships with capital partners to provide agricultural entrepreneurs with financial backing.
“The agriculture sector has a proud history of innovation, often led by our farmers themselves,” Talbot said. “As the pace of innovation globally continues to increase, we need pathways to identify the best ideas and get them to market sooner in order to remain at the cutting edge”.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull