Ag tech's big role in Australia's economic recovery

Ag tech's big role in Australia's economic recovery

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Justin Webb, AgriWebb founder, believes ag-tech will be critical in allowing agriculture to play a big role in leading Australia out of recession.

Justin Webb, AgriWebb founder, believes ag-tech will be critical in allowing agriculture to play a big role in leading Australia out of recession.

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Agriculture broadly and more specifically ag-tech will play a key role in leading Australia out of recession.

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AUSTRALIAN agriculture as a whole and ag-tech in particular will play a vital role in lifting the nation out of the current COVID-19 inspired economic downturn.

This is the view of Justin Webb, the developer of livestock management software business AgriWebb.

"We have talked about the importance of agriculture internally, but now, with modelling showing agriculture delivers 12 per cent of Australia's GDP when including processing and retail, it is hopefully time the broader community sees the opportunities," Mr Webb said.

"Ag is 3-5pc of GDP, up to 12pc when you factor in processing, so there is no good reason that agriculture can't be the backbone of our economy and help the nation navigate through the headwinds we face at present," he said.

"We need to acknowledge ag is one of our most resilient industries and that it can play just as an important a role in Australia's recovery as mining, as construction."

He said ag-tech would play a role in unlocking further value within the agricultural supply chain.

"We have a look at our nearby export markets and everybody is familiar with the story of the growing middle class in Asia, but to maximise the potential earnings in this area we need to look at areas like traceability and that is where ag-tech can play a big role."

Mr Webb said there were tech solutions to allow farmers to conduct traceability compliance without create an unnecessary workload.

"It is about turning things into a positive and if you have products that require no additional work on your behalf but can help you establish serious traceability and sustainability credentials then that can only be of benefit."

Mr Webb said he felt agriculture had to highlight its achievements better.

"Industries like dairy and beef cattle can get a bad rap but you look at what we are achieving here in Australia in terms of regenerative grazing, it is one of the few spaces in ag that you can recapture good volumes of carbon."

Moving forward, Mr Webb put the acid on Australia's ag-tech sector to deliver solutions in line with producer expectations.

"Tech is only useful when its solving a problem, there's a misnomer about farmers that they aren't tech savvy, they do like tech, they just don't like tech that doesn't add any value."

"From my perspective, it is great that a cocky can get a drone to pick up the mail, but I think what they would really value is a single dashboard that pulled together all sorts of information, like animal weights, pastures and treatments and created data that can deliver actionable insights, where you can see what it cost to produce a kilo of meat and where the costs were incurred."

"With Agriwebb the idea has always been to provide actual, deliverable insights."

Since starting in the mid-2010s, AgriWebb has grown at a rapid rate and now is used as a management tool over 10 per cent of Australia's sheep herd and cattle flock.

He said Australia had been a fertile ground for ag tech companies and called on the industry to continue to support the sector.

"We've seen the success internationally of businesses like AgWorld, Agridigital and AgriWebb, we have the talent here, now it is time to work to unlock the investment opportunities."

Mr Webb said ag-tech was not just about compliance.

"There are real productivity gains to be made, we have found that with our record keeping farmers are having a 20-30pc drop in lamb mortality rates, that is enough to make a serious difference to their bottom line."

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