The recent Growing a Digital Future in Agriculture National Forum held at Parliament House, Canberra in September brought stakeholders from government, education, agriculture, research and policy to address the opportunities, challenges and actions needed to allow Australian farmers, foresters and fishers to transform their businesses, livelihoods, supply chains and industries.
While agricultural digital technologies are already well advanced and available in the marketplace, research has revealed that adoption and utilisation remains low across the industry. This is due to many factors, not least a lack of human capability, knowledge and understanding of what digital agriculture is. Both individuals and employees will have a greater level of certainty about what the future of work needs for them and their businesses and what skills they could invest in to be prepared.
To achieve the $100 billion industry goal by 2030 set by National Farmers Federation in 2018, the agricultural industry needs to embark on a digital transformation journey. This journey began in earnest at the national forum.
The forum marked the release of two practical tools to help Australian agri-businesses adopt digital technologies in a way that adds value to their farming business.
1. The Australian Agricultural Workforce Digital Capability Framework and self-assessment tool
This tool provides the analysis and framework education providers to develop a curriculum to meet future demand for digital skills in the agriculture industry.
This framework better enables the Australian tertiary and VET sectors to develop and deliver courses valuable for industry and helps individuals decide on the myriad of courses available online globally from learning platforms.
Achieving a practical national framework will also guide ongoing investments and priorities as they relate to up-skilling the agricultural workforce to better adopt technology and lift the digital maturity of the sector.
2. The Australian agriculture Digital Maturity Index and Self-Assessment tool
To ensure that the journey of digital transformation is purposeful and effective, it is important to first undertake an assessment of the industry to identify areas of digital strength and areas for development.
The development of the on-line digital maturity index and assessment tool is considered a useful first step for digital transformation. CSIRO has developed a world-first digital maturity index and assessment tool specifically for agriculture, which encompasses five key pillars.