A $10 million fund has been launched to further secure Australia’s food supply chains and build the agrifood industry’s resilience to shocks. The federal Government-backed Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre has launched its Mission Food For Life.
The three-year program will bring agrifood businesses, tech companies and the research sector together to develop new data-driven technologies which will help secure food supply chains.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated digital innovation in the agrifood industry, with the research and technology sectors swiftly rallying to support the transformation.
“Our food supply chains have taken some big knocks over the last 12 months,” she said. “The drought was still biting hard when the bushfires hit. Now we’re grappling with a pandemic which has put incredible pressure on our supply chains.
“The reality is shocks and stresses like these will continue to happen, and are likely to happen more frequently into the future. Increasing the agrifood sector’s adoption of data and digital technology is the key to resilient food supply chains that can bounce back, adapt and harness opportunities.
Further strengthening the supply chains is not only a good thing for Australia domestically, it helps create opportunities for farmers and manufacturers to build on the country’s reputation as a food powerhouse around the globe, said Andrews.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said investing in cutting-edge work such as this delivers ongoing returns to farmers and the Australian community.
“This is the new smarts of Australian agriculture which brings together the best minds and technologies to enrich our food supply chains and diversity,” he said.
“By fully harnessing the power of data and digital technology, we are helping to protect Brand Australia and build a buffer against shocks like COVID-19.
“The Mission Food For Life project will help farmers make better decisions and strengthen the food and agricultural supply chains.”
The Mission Food For Life initiative will first identify vulnerable areas across the supply chain in six key commodities – red meat, grains, horticulture, dairy, wine and seafood. A series of research and development projects will then deliver new
digital tools to improve business and community resilience in these areas.
Longer term, the project aims to integrate digital and data technologies like information systems, software platforms and sensing technologies across the supply chains to improve quality management and capitalise on new market opportunities.
The Food Agility CRC was launched in 2018 to help Australia’s farmers, food producers and food industry businesses embrace digital technologies to improve their productivity, strengthen their branding, create new jobs and export opportunities. It is backed by $50 million from the Australian Government, with an additional $149 million in cash and in-kind contributed from 54 partners.