SPEECH: Tracey Martin, CEO AusAgritech at National Farmers Federation (NFF) AgTech Industry Forum

Tuesday 15th March 2022. Recording coming soon

Thank you very much for having the Australian Agritech Association here today to update you on what we have been doing. I am sure you have covered a lot of ground today about how agritech represents an enormous opportunity to further improve agricultural production, create resilient supply chains, create jobs, drive economic growth, and evolve a new sector in which Australia can and should be recognised as a global leader.

There are emerging issues that are highlighting the importance of Australia having a strong agritech sector including to ensure that Australia has an ongoing role and influence in global supply chains that are increasingly reliant on technology, and to ensure that we are makers of tailored technology that meet Australian agriculture’s needs, rather than being dependent on offshore agritech participants who may see Australian farmers and agriculture as a secondary priority in what is a very big global market in terms of sales, but also our distance. Australian agritech companies do collaborate with large technology companies internationally, its necessary, but developing our own sector that services our agricultural sector here is increasingly needed to safeguard our supply chain domestically and overseas.

The emerging Australian agritech industry is a fast-growing sector of the economy that is creating skilled jobs, it will help drive digitalisation across all of rural and regional Australia, it promises the need for new skills and industry in regional communities, requires regional hubs of expertise and has significant domestic benefits to farming businesses and others in the agri-food supply chain. Agritech has a growing cohort of successful start-ups and scale-ups across the country The sector is now starting to attract material investment and interest across industry stakeholders, investors, researchers as well as federal and state governments. We have over 300 companies on our agritech ecosystem map which you can find our AusAgritech’s social media channels and our website http://www.ausagritech.org.

Some reasons that Australia is excellent at agritech and should be a natural leader is that we have always adapted to harsh and unforgiving climates. If it’s Australian agritech you can rest assured it has been tested in all terrain. We have high adoption of agritech across Australia, with the challenge ongoing as new technologies are applied every day. We have a very ambitious agricultural sector and agritech industry – and each will propel each other forward. Importantly we note that Australian farmers are discerning. It is important to have a strong business case and straight forward pathways for adoption. There are many priorities in farmers day, many urgent. Agritech providers have to get across that every day noise when making their case to farmers.

I will tell you a little now, about the Association itself. The Australian Agritech Association was established to put Australia at the
forefront of global agritech innovation. We were incorporated by a founding board early in 2020 with a diverse group of passionate professionals whose experience spans technology, agri-food, venture capital, education and research to drive our mission. At the heart of our mission is an aspiration to drive maximum benefit from Australia’s investment in research, innovation and digital strategies and deliver new jobs, increase production and build sovereign capital.

We are member led, and will have our first AGM at the end of May this year. We seek to create an inclusive and vibrant agritech ecosystem for farmers, relevant Australian government agencies, major Australian agribusiness partners and its rapidly growing cohort of agritech members. There are many touch points to engage via the Association and these are set out on our newly launched website http://www.ausagritech.org.

What’s next? We already have world class ‘agricultural innovation’ here in Australia and are uniquely positioned to develop solutions across many agricultural sub-sectors. To achieve this, AusAgritech will focus on the following core objectives:

● To connect the community of agritech innovators, farmers, investor groups, government regulators, researchers, industry bodies and interested public to catalyse profitable innovation
● To develop and promote the market for Australian knowledge-based agritech products
● To grow the value of the Australian food and fibre sector through the development and adoption of technology;
● To expand Australia’s role as a global agritech innovation hub and foster collaboration

We expect to see leadership in Australian agritech in areas like Robotics, Carbon Reduction and IOT/ SaaS platforms that all seek to improve productivity and profitability for farmers. We have recently released our Election Statement which, like all specialised industry sectors, calls for a national strategy and cross-departmental collaboration at the Federal level for agritech. As is also the case for agriculture, so too for agritech, as we each extend into other Ministerial portfolios such as water, energy, connectively, emissions reduction and so on.

We thank the NFF for the work on data and innovation. It is essential that government and the agricultural sector speak to the agritech sector and they
can easily do that through the Association. Our members are doing the innovation and implementation already with agricultural producers across the
country and we would love to engage with you about that work.

In closing, agritech is not just tech, it is also not just ag. It also requires the building of a technology sector and all that goes along with that – and
attracting the investment that ensures that great ideas that will transform agriculture, make it to market with those companies being sustainable. It‘s a really big job and we will get the best outcomes by working together.

Author: AusAgritech

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