Protected cropping could be a potential game-changer to effectively manage growing risks in Australia’s horticulture sector, according to Australian assistant minister for agriculture, Richard Colbeck.
“Australia’s A$1.8bn protected cropping industry offers optimal growing conditions for premium produce and delivers higher yields with less water usage, making it an essential tool during times of drought,” said Colbeck.
In partnership with Hort Innovation and Western Sydney University, the government contributed A$4.3m to The National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre: a state-of-the-art glasshouse facility to house research, education and training opportunities.
Colbeck said the average return on investment from protected cropping is between 5 and 10 per cent, but can increase up to 25 per cent for high-tech greenhouse vegetable enterprises.
Australia’s vegetable industry is forecast to reach A$12bn in value by 2022-2023, up from A$3.9bn in 2016-17. The industry also reported an 11 per cent growth in exports in 2018, up from the previous year.
In partnership with Hort Innovation, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has begun its 12th annual survey of the national horticulture sector.
“The survey collects data about production, financial performance and socio-economic characteristics of approximately 300 vegetable growing farms, providing accurate information to industry and government to ensure research and development initiatives are effectively targeted,” said Colbeck.
The survey began on 4 March and its results will be released in September this year.