ANOTHER paper espousing the rosy future for agriculture thanks to the world’s growing middle class was launched recently in Rockhampton, Queensland.
The Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand’s (CA ANZ) New Future paper says by providing just 5 per cent of the daily diet to the existing and emerging affluent customers could see Australasian farmers selling premium food and beverage to two billion people.
This comes only months after the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIDC) published research outlining five megatrends over the next two decades – a hungrier world, a wealthier world, fussier customers, transformative technologies, and a bumpier ride.
Both papers agree farmers will need to adopt a new mind-set and change existing production processes and methods as the wealthier world shifts their consumption patterns from daily nutritional needs to lifestyle wants.
“This dramatic cultural change is already well underway in our closest trading partners, but if farming is to be at the centre of our future prosperity the sector needs to embrace new technologies to meet these changing consumer demands,” said CA ANZ’s chief executive Lee White.
The paper encourages farmers and agribusiness to embrace the technology disruption in all stages of the food value chain to capture this value.
This disruption is largely driven by $US486 million in agri-tech investment from venture capitalists and established companies in 2014.
“The pace of this disruption is only going to increase, and farmers will be faced with a stark choice – join the disruptors or face disruption themselves,” Mr White said.
Agriculture needs a diverse range of talent to harness this disruption and realise its long-term potential, however the brightest and best walk past career opportunities in this sector, the paper found.
Fourth generation grazier Tory Acton, Paradise Lagoons, Rockhampton, presented at the paper’s launch and agrees.
There are good reasons why the brightest seem to shy away from agriculture, however.
“I think over the years we have been our own worst enemies as we have probably harped on and on about how tough it is and you have to do it for the love,” Ms Acton said.
“People in the cities see that we are either in drought, flood or fire, and it has probably left a lot of them asking why would they want to go into that industry.”
It was important for agriculture to push the positives of the industry and currently that was the looming global food shortage.
“We need to encourage back into the sector as many youth who are willing to introduce new technology and innovations so we can capitalise on this,” she said.
The paper pointed out the average age of an Australian farmer was 52 years old, and with technology moving at such a fast pace it was leaving them behind.
“This is where youth can bridge that gap.”