A bright future in Australia’s Top End


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Northern Australia Food Futures Conference participants sampling cucumbers

The Northern Australia Food Futures Conference showcased the importance of agricultural diversity in our three northern states. Stakeholders gathered in Darwin to focus on how public and private sectors can develop agriculture in the Gulf and Cape of Queensland, the Kimberley of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

AgriFutures Australia was a proud sponsor of the Northern Australia Food Futures Conference held in Darwin from 2-4 July 2018.

Aimed at developing and maintaining partnerships in agriculture across Australia’s three northern states, the conference attracted farmers, scientists, community groups, policy makers, research development corporations and politicians.

Before the Conference kicked-off, three AgriFutures™ Ignite Network members attended a farm tour of the region to appreciate the different crops grown in the north and to learn about new watering and farm management systems.

“I was blown away by the adaptability and resourcefulness of farmers here. They are forward-thinking and always looking for better ways to do things,” said AgriFutures™ Ignite Network member Michelle Demers.

Michelle is the co-founder of a start-up company which produces a biodegradable plastic mulch film. In her application for the farm tour and Conference sponsorship, she highlighted that she strives to gain new insights into agriculture, particularly how cropping systems work for different produce and across different climates in Australia.


“We were shown an amazing variety of production systems, everything from cattle and tree fruits to greenhouse vegetables and quinoa.

Something I learned was that people are willing to try things, regardless of what others say. I met quite a few people who were told that what they were trying to do was impossible, but they went and had a crack at it anyway. This confidence to try something new is certainly relevant to where I am with my own start-up,” said Michelle.

Henry Gratte, director of Cooya Agriculture and Calum Watt, a PhD student at Murdoch University, were also sponsored to attend the farm-tour and Conference.

The trio toured Tou’s Mango Farm at Manton, Red Dirt Melons at Venn and Ceres Farm at Kununurra, just to name a few pit stops along the five-day tour.

The Conference itself started out with discussions about technologies as well as panel discussions featuring ideas and upcoming trends for transforming and improving agriculture in the north. This was followed by tours of various farms around Darwin.

AgriFutures Australia General Manager, Research and Innovation, Michael Beer also attended the Conference and spoke about new crops and participated in a broad scoping discussion on what RDCs can do for Northern Australia.

“Northern Australia is abundant in land and water resources however there are many challenges such as logistics, pests and diseases which need to be addressed in the area. From an R&D perspective, it was important to see how research could help address some of these challenges and opportunities to develop the economic sustainability of this wonderfully diverse region,” said Mr Beer.

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