Australia an also-ran in global race to adopt agtech

The likes of NZ and Singapore beating Australia in uptake of agtech

Machinery
TIME FOR LIFT-OFF: The chairman of the Australian Agritech Association, Andrew Coppin, said Australia needs to get more serious about adopting agtech innovations.

TIME FOR LIFT-OFF: The chairman of the Australian Agritech Association, Andrew Coppin, said Australia needs to get more serious about adopting agtech innovations.

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The slow uptake of agech innovation in Australia has copped some harsh criticism.

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Australian farming is being left far behind in the dust in the global race to develop cutting-edge innovation.

That's the blunt view of Andrew Coppin, chairman of the Australian Agritech Association and CEO of leading agtech company, Farmbot Monitoring Solutions.

"We punch above our weight in terms of production, export and quality but we're missing the agritech wave," he said.

"As a nation we're rightly proud of our farming industry. Our produce is lauded worldwide for its superb quality and agriculture plays an important role in our economy, both internally and through exports.

"But when it comes to agritech, we're lagging. And it's not due to a lack of ideas."

He said agritech supported farm industries with innovations that either reduced waste, cost and time or lifted productivity, enhanced efficiency, boosted yield and increased profitability.

NOT COPPIN IT: Andrew Coppin said said Australia was lagging well behind in the global race to harness agtech innovations.

NOT COPPIN IT: Andrew Coppin said said Australia was lagging well behind in the global race to harness agtech innovations.

A constant talking point this year has been whether the National Farmers Federation's ambition for agriculture to become a $100 billion annual industry by 2030 is achievable.

Mr Coppin said there was a disconnect between the goals of tomorrow and the innovation culture of today.

"We already have some world-leading innovative agritech solutions in place but we need to do better to ensure we capture opportunities and secure significant growth in this emerging sector.

"There are tens of billions being invested in agritech and the likes of New Zealand, Israel and Singapore are leading the charge.

"In one year (2018) there was $US16.9 billion invested globally in this sector and Australia only attracted a tiny portion of this investment."

Mr Coppin said Australia needed three elements to take advantage of momentum in global agritech.

"As a country, we're not organised or focused in our agritech efforts. There are plenty of investment opportunities out there but we're not placing ourselves first in the queue for this investment.

"We need a strong, joined-up strategy in place, developed in collaboration with all stakeholders to drive commercial R&D and support investment into the sector.

"We need to engage, enthuse and involve farmers with open dialogue and incentives.

"Adopting new agritech solutions will only help farmers in the long term but they can't necessarily afford to be pioneering and testing new technologies on their own accord.

"Producers need to be encouraged to adopt new agritech solutions in a risk-reduced way, for example with incentives towards adoption and trials.

"Instead of spending time focusing on brand new, super-early ideas we should be scaling and expanding the many existing great solutions around.

"Both private and public investment should be looking at the current agritech innovation sector for opportunities to collaborate in a meaningful way, support proven success stories and create leaders in the field."

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