DELEGATES from across Australia headed to Darwin this week to attend the Northern Australia Food Futures Conference.
Aimed at developing and maintaining partnerships in agriculture across the three northern states of Australia, the conference attracts farmers and stakeholders in the services sector along with scientists, community groups, policy makers, research development corporations and politicians.
The Hon Ken Vowles, Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Resources welcomed attendees and opened the conference.
“Northern development is our priority and the aim is to keep the topic of developing the north firmly on the national agenda,” he said.
“Northern development means so much more then just providing economic dividends for the three northern jurisdictions.
“It is a strategic, national, economic and cultural sovereign investment.”
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Minister Vowles said there were opportunities and challenges to farming Northern Australia.
“There are great advantages for Northern Australia – abundant suitable land and water resources, uninterrupted dry season sunlight and a growing season counter-cyclical to southern production zones,” he said.
“However it also presents many challenges to farmers in terms of pests, diseases, crop agronomy and logistics.
“Hence it is important to prioritise investment in science and technology, in order to develop effective and economic sustainability in Northern Farming Systems.”
Conference attendees had the opportunity to visit NT success story Humpty Doo Barramundi, the largest producer of Barramundi in Australia, as part of the inaugural conference farm tour, sponsored by ANZ.
Humpy Doo Barramundi, owner and general manager, Dan Richards said the family business had been operating for 25 years.
“We started off at just six kilograms of fish each week, now we do 60,000kg of fish each week,” he said.
Mr Richards said the business was built around a hierarchy of needs, firstly to survive, secondly to learn and then to grow.
“People who grow before they learn, do not survive. Businesses that diversify before they learn do not survive,” he said.
“The tour focused on what our journey has been about, developing the knowledge and getting that right before we grew.”
Sharon O’Keeffe travelled as a guest of conference sponsor ANZ.
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