Northern Australian agricultural supply chains need to smarten up, says new report
The Cooperative Research Centre For Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) released a report revealing that Northern Australia’s agricultural supply chains need a “re-framing” to fully capitalise on the region’s economic development opportunities.
The Reframing smart supply chains in Northern Australia report found that there is high potential for economic growth in the region, which can be realised if supply chains are strengthened, trade volumes intensified, digitally smart technologies adopted and a more marketed approach taken, particularly regarding exports to ASEAN neighbours.
The study also called for stronger multi-sectoral supply chain collaboration across Northern Australia to spearhead a post-COVID19 economic recovery,
Project lead and report co-author James Cook University (JCU) Professor Hurriyet Babacan said that Asian markets remained critical to Northern Australia, despite uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“We identified synergies in supply chains between Northern Australia and our neighbouring countries which could be further strengthened by establishing sub-regional trading strategies or blocs for Northern Australian producers,” said Babacan.
Babacan continued that this could include shared supply chain and value chain hubs with ASEAN nations to enable aggregation, processing and enhanced market access
The project also identified common challenges facing northern agricultural producers, businesses, logistics providers, importers, exporters and consumers.
A top concern was lack of a clear vision about where, when and how agricultural development should happen and the impact the lack of clarity has around planning and investing in supply chain infrastructure and systems.
“The challenges have highlighted the need to shift our supply chain thinking to look at ways more sectors and supply chain participants can work together – to create scale, resilience and persistence in the market,” said Babacan.
Babacan also said a new demand-led approach is needed to drive critical mass and optimisation of the entire supply chain network.
“If we get this right now, Northern Australia will earn a reputation as a reliable supplier of the quality produce the world craves. That will serve the North, and Australia, for decades to come as we trade our way out of the COVID-19 recession,” said Kirk Coningham, CEO, Australian Logistics Council (ACL).
CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the project highlighted a re-think of northern supply chains is needed to address the cost of freight and transport.
“These are big issues to overcome and can’t be resolved in isolation of other challenges identified in this report. Taking steps to reframe Northern Australia’s supply chains requires a transformational approach,” said Matz.
“This is why the CRCNA strongly supports calls for the establishment of a Northern Australian supply chain fund which would support the identification, prioritisation and development of freight and non-freight business case options or models,” he said.
Matz said that the fund would focus on building stronger supply chain collaborations at the right scale and test the feasibility of these investments.
The CRCNA is progressing with their next research investment to drive the key recommendations from the reframing study with work underway to build a cross sectoral supply chain collaboration with key stakeholders from the various regional supply chain projects.