GROWTH POTENTIAL: Sugar cane harvest in tropical Queensland, Australia.
GROWTH POTENTIAL: Sugar cane harvest in tropical Queensland, Australia.

Capacity for growth in Mackay agribusiness

THE potential for increased production in agribusiness in the Mackay Isaac and Whitsunday region is significant with the capacity for growth not fully tapped.

The Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Agribusiness Export Supply Chain Mapping Study released on Thursday by the GW3 alliance outlined how the region's productive land base was suitable for increased agricultural production.

The region has a relatively stable climate, reasonable access to water, productive soils, solid road networks recently upgraded and other logistics infrastructure such as rail, airports, seaport and a supportive services economy.

The capacity for growth involves two key themes, increasing supply and developing new or alternative products.

Beef cattle production potential exists to the order of 20 per cent with further potential to investigate feedlotting, better located to the west of the region over the range which would reduce run off and environmental concerns with respect to the Great Barrier Reef.

There is at least 15 per cent fallow cane land as some farms are small which would allow for the production of legumes and other nitrogen-fixing crops on fallow land in rotation with cane.

Horticulture expansion in the Bowen region is possible if water can be secured.

There is the possibility to produce crops not currently grown in the region such as citrus as well as the possibility of alternative uses for horticulture waste.

Potential exists for increasing the supply of crops, particularly if there is co-ordination across fallow cane land on the coast with production over the ranges.

Through co-ordination the potential to increase the production of chickpeas and other legumes that work well in both production systems is possible.

Exploring new cropping alternatives should focus on products in demand from international markets and those that grow well in the region, especially those involving broad acres cropping with the ability to export by the container as opposed to bulk exports.

The aquaculture industry will see a major increase in productivity following the purchase by national aquaculture company Tassal of two sites in the Whitsundays and Mackay LGA.

Potential for wild-catch fishing in Queensland exists through better communication within industry and continued good management.

The region's natural beauty, potential for increased domestic and international tourism should be increased though the creation of a regional food culture, regional brand and cross-industry diversification.



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