Legislative Council: Thursday, February 08, 2024


AgTech Producer Groups

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:11): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister explain how the government is supporting the adoption of technological advancements in primary industries through the formation of AgTech Producer Groups?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:12): I thank the honourable member for his question. The efficiency and productivity of Australian primary producers has long underpinned our national prosperity, and technological advancements have played a vital role in this. Technological innovation must be constantly monitored and continually developed, however, to ensure that our primary producers remain at the cutting edge.

In this context it has been estimated that the return on realising the potential of agtech in South Australia is currently $2.6 billion a year in gross additional value of agricultural production. This is the economic benefit that we can harness as a state if new technological innovations are adopted that better manage our scarce resources amidst a changing climate. The South Australian government is investing in several programs that support both the development of technological advancements and their adoption in primary industries.

A new initiative in this latter space is the establishment of AgTech Producer Groups. This is a $555,000 initiative that provides eligible primary producers with the opportunity to join AgTech Producer Groups, through which they can increase their knowledge and understanding of advancements in technology in a peer-to-peer learning environment.

Under this initiative, each AgTech Producer Group will be able to apply for funding for costs associated with activities that encourage or facilitate the adoption of agtech, up to a maximum of $18,500, excluding GST, per group. Eligible costs include those associated with facilitating engagement, presenters, workshops, agtech training and travel to agtech demonstration farms, including PIRSA's research farms at Struan, Loxton, Nuriootpa and Minnipa, as well as private farms located on Kangaroo Island.

Interestingly, the initiative has been modelled on a previously successful program run exclusively for the red meat and wool industries at that time, which led to 75 per cent of participants making changes to their enterprises and 50 per cent either using data for the first time or improving their use of data in their agricultural production processes. However, unlike the Red Meat and Wool Growth Program, the AgTech Producer Group initiative will provide support across all primary industry sectors, including livestock, viticulture, horticulture, aquaculture and fisheries, broadacre and grains, forestry and other primary producers such as apiarists.

So far, I am advised that PIRSA has received expressions of interest from groups involved in viticulture, livestock, horticulture and seafood who wish to explore training on different technologies and courses on digital literacy as well as study tours. Expressions of interest are still open until Monday 19 February, and I encourage all interested primary producers to find further information about the AgTech Producer Group initiative and application forms on the PIRSA website.