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Innovation, Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability in Australia

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Australia’s agriculture and food industries are well placed to contribute to the economy’s future growth given the robust prospects of global food demand and the continuing high international competitiveness of these sectors. There are, however, important challenges that call for new ways to exploit agricultural resources and human capital. The decade-long decline in agricultural productivity growth needs to be overcome, coupled with the need to accommodate uncertainties about the impacts of climate change and to respond to societal demands in the areas of sustainable development and animal welfare. The agro-food sector also needs to absorb exchange-rate and cost pressures created by the mining boom. To tap additional opportunities of the higher value food segments, Australian agri-businesses need new knowledge and capabilities to seize demand signals and value opportunities, particularly from more affluent consumers in Asian markets.

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Overview of food and agriculture challenges and performance in Australia

This chapter outlines the main challenges and opportunities for the food and agriculture sector of Australia, which will require innovation. It describes the overall economic, social and environmental context in which the sector operates, and the natural resource base upon which it relies. It provides an overview of the general geographical and economic characteristics of the country; and outlines the contribution of the agri-food system to the economy. It identifies the main structural characteristics of primary agricultural and upstream and downstream industries; describes the main food and agriculture outputs and markets; and reviews trends in agricultural productivity and sustainability.

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