By 2050, the global population is set to grow to 9 billion, 2 billion more than today. To feed, clothe and grow amenity for this increased population, the planet will have to produce more in the next three decades than all farmers in history have harvested over the past 8,000 years. As farmers are called on to increase production while reducing their ecological footprint and input resources such as water and chemicals, research outcomes and technology that can deliver real solutions are becoming increasingly important.
In a time of significant change and disruption, a new report developed by CSIRO and the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Future Enterprise and commissioned by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. Titled A New Chapter: Opportunities to Seed New Industries for Queensland Over the Coming Decade, the report has identified nine ‘seed industries’ with the potential to create new industry opportunities for the state. Queensland’s strong agriculture sector has been recognised as a key enabler of various seed industries, notably microalgal and macroalgal resources, agricultural sensors and automation, and supply chain provenance technologies.
Queensland has the natural resources and expertise needed to grow algae. This industry offers opportunities to develop high-value products, including functional foods, livestock feed, biofertilisers, biofuels and therapeutics, while reducing carbon emissions. Digital technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT), robotic technologies, autonomous vehicles and drones are already transforming the agriculture industry, providing new opportunities to improve the productivity and efficiency of the sector. Investment in this industry could see the number of businesses increase from 155 in 2019 to 765 by 2030 and account for 3,637 direct and 10,984 indirect full time equivalent jobs. While traceability systems could be used to track and trace food products along the entire value chain, from the paddock to the consumer. These technologies would enhance the transparency of the entire supply chain and strengthen Queensland’s reputation for safe, high-quality food and agricultural exports.
Establishing and transitioning to these emerging seed industries would not be without challenges and requires strong leadership, strategic direction and collaboration across government, industry and academia. However, this report provides a foundation to set a new strategic direction for the state following recent disruption, and the agriculture sector is ready to be part of the solution.