More than a billion dollars in capital investment could be unlocked for new agricultural development across the Northern Territory if action is taken to de-risk the investment landscape – according to a new report by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA).

The De-risking, brokering and prioritising agricultural development in the Northern Territory report was prepared by NAJA Business Consulting Services in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and the CRCNA and draws on feedback from the Territory’s top agricultural, horticultural and aquacultural stakeholders and Traditional Owner interests.

NAJA’s lead consultant Paul Rosair said to quantify the opportunity across the Top End, his team developed a master list of 31 potential agricultural development proposals and prioritised the top four into case studies included in the report.

“These four proponents estimated de-risking development in the NT could attract up to $200 million in new capital investment and create up to 250 direct new, fulltime jobs by providing a clear pathway to unlock agricultural and aquacultural development in the NT.

“If we extrapolate this analysis across the 31 potential development projects we’ve identified, then this figure could potentially grow to over $1 billion and 1,500 new jobs,” he said.

CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the report had delivered a clearer picture of what sustainable agricultural development across the Top End could look like if the right mix of economic, environmental and social considerations were met.

“The research examined innovative NT-specific solutions such as irrigated and dryland cropping systems, horticulture, the intensification of livestock production and improving agricultural supply chains.

“De-risking is about what is needed to attract quality investment across the agricultural sector while meeting environmental and social obligations. Then, it’s about prioritising this investment to enable and support sustainable development to grow the sector for the benefit of all Territorians.”

Some of the common impediments to agricultural development in the NT discussed in the report include those related to land planning, tenure and non-pastoral use permits, logistics and infrastructure needs and fragmented regulatory requirements.

Mr Matz said “the CRCNA looked forward to continuing to work with the NT Government and key stakeholders to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations in a coordinated and integrated way providing confidence to industry and investors across the Top End,” he said.

The seven recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • Unlocking land for agricultural development by converting parts of a pastoral lease to freehold, initially as trials which meet short timeframes and best practice approaches to appropriate native title and environmental approvals.
  • Prioritising and establishing well planned agricultural precincts to focus on the development effort.
  • Enabling and supporting Aboriginal-led agricultural development through an Aboriginal Agricultural Development Steering Group.
  • Developing a prioritised agricultural infrastructure plan for the NT with a focus on telecommunications, roads, energy, water and processing.
  • Unlocking regulatory barriers to agriculture and aquaculture development by making the regulatory system work more effectively for investors and other stakeholders.
  • Fostering a supportive or more partnership-based development environment with industry and community groups.
  • Improving relationships and culture to build trust across Government, native title groups and industry to establish principles of how to work together in agricultural development.

The Northern Territory Farmers Association has welcomed the call for greater collaboration.

CEO Paul Burke said ” the CRCNA’s recommendations must be acted on by Federal and Territory governments to unlock the north’s enormous agricultural and economic potential. NT Farmers will work with the CRCNA and respective governments to implement the report’s recommendations to grow the agricultural industry in the north.”

Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association CEO Ashley Manicaros said the report was timely, given the current economic opportunities which existed in Northern Australia.

“The report identifies several areas which have been consistent barriers to investment and the North reaching its full potential,” Mr Manicaros said. “There are mechanisms already in place which can accelerate sustainable agricultural development and these need to be better understood and potentially streamlined to create the jobs and growth everyone identifies as so critical at this time in the economic cycle.”

Media enquiries

Carla Keith, CRCNA Communications Manager 0499 330 051

Iain Forrest, Northern Territory Farmers Association Policy & Communications Officer 0405287344

Ashley Manicaros, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association CEO 08 8981 5099