The CSIRO has launched three new missions and will invest $150 million to grow Australia’s agriculture and food sectors, targeting $20 billion by 2030.
The investment, which comes from CSIRO, government and industry, will tackle drought, the food export market and growing the protein market.
CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said the three missions together aim to capture a $20 billion opportunity for Australian agriculture to extend its position as a world leader.
“For over a century, CSIRO has been working with farmers and governments to improve life on this great land – but today we’re bringing all of our newest science and technology, from Artificial Intelligence to genetics and smart materials, to bear on overcoming our oldest national challenge – drought,” Marshall said.
“Overcoming the impacts of drought, protecting the authenticity of Australian products, and inventing whole new markets will grow one of our most important national industries.
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“Australia has a natural competitive advantage in ‘ag-tech’, the way Silicon Valley does in ‘tech’ – these missions leverage that advantage to grow those local companies and grow the quality of life for Australians working in them.”
The research missions aim to reduce the impacts of drought by 30 per cent, increase the value of Australian agrifood exports by $10 billion, and produce an additional $10 billion of high-quality protein products by 2030.
“Overcoming challenges of this size takes a Team Australia approach, which is why we’re proud to have so many collaborators on board to help Australian agriculture become more resilient, more profitable, and to produce food that is more plentiful and healthier for Australians and our customers around the world,” Marshall said.
To improve drought resilience, researchers will investigate new farming systems that use water more efficiently, technologies to secure regional water supplies and new tools based on localised climate data that will make farming into the future easier.
The mission to increase its agrifoods exports aims to improve access to high-value markets through new isotopic fingerprinting tools that can support proof of origin for food and verify its clean and green credentials.
The mission will also reduce the cost of meeting export requirements through new automated systems that use sensors and other remote technologies.
The CSIRO also aims to protect and grow existing livestock and aquaculture industries, develop new plant-based products and use new technologies, such as biomanufacturing to create new proteins or even transform waste products into high value food products.
Launched in August 2020, CSIRO’s Missions Program is focused on solving the six great challenges Australia faces as a nation – health and wellbeing, food security and quality, national security, the resilience of the environment, the sustainability of energy and resources, and the future of industries.