Being a primary producer in Australia means battling diverse weather, droughts, floods, aridity and salinity across a variety of components within the agrifood supply chain.
Australia is the second-driest continent on Earth. Despite its most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), incorporating large areas of desert, 81 per cent of its landmass is used for agriculture. As water resources become more valuable, Australia finds itself in an increasing climatic challenge not too dissimilar for many of the primary producers across the Middle East.
It is this shared experience of climatic resilience that has Australian agritech companies looking to expand and export their latest innovations to the UAE, including a delegation of innovators from the state of NSW, at this year’s Agra Middle East (AgraME) conference being run from December 8-9 in Dubai.
Andrew Coppin, Founding Board Member of the Australian Agritech Association, the industry body representing the agritech sector in Australia, believes the time is right for NSW agribusiness to engage with the Middle East.
“Many of the challenges faced by primary producers and others in the agrifood supply chain in the Middle East are also prevalent in Australia and as such we believe there are relevant technologies that could be applied to the region,” he said.
“We have developed world-leading technology across many areas of agrifood business and supply chains and now have a fast-evolving range of agritech focused on climate tech, alternative proteins, carbon reduction and a strong focus on resilient and sustainable production practices.”
NSW Minister for Investment, Tourism and Trade, Stuart Ayres said as Australia’s largest food producing state, NSW is focused on leveraging its R&D capability to increase yields at home and help improve food security abroad.
“NSW has a workforce experienced in agricultural production and processing and has established agribusiness transport, distribution and logistics infrastructure, which are admired around the world,” Ayres said.
“The agritech sector is fast becoming a vital part of the agriculture economy in NSW and we’re pleased to support such an impressive delegation of companies at AgraME, to share ideas about future farming that increases productivity, balanced against sustainability.”
From the sea to the soil
One of the NSW innovators showcasing at this year’s AgraME event is land-based aquaculture farm River Stone Fish Farm and Lab, which has pivoted from being chemical-free barramundi farmers to developing an award-winning, disruptive agricultural fertiliser technology that is certified organic, odourless and affordable.
The company’s biofertiliser, Swift Grow, is derived from fish manure sustainably farmed in a pristine natural environment, which is certified and endorsed by the NSW Department of Agriculture for worldwide soil and hydroponics applications.
The Swift Grow product contains living micro-organisms, rich in Lactobacillus bacteria, produced by the fish's metabolism, and is said to increase plant yield by up to 500 per cent based on controlled field trials.
River Stone Co-founder and Communications Manager Emil Isaac said the liquid fertiliser is not only sold Australia wide but is now exported to five countries, including the UAE, where it has recently found success as the first product of its kind.
“Diluted Swift Grow is sprayed on foliage and soil to restore their natural biota to a peak fertile state resulting in rapid plant response, which is field-trialled and scientifically proven to increase crop yield, reduce water evaporation and restore the natural size, colour, taste and scent of all fruit, vegetables and grains,” Isaac said.
The team at Swift Grow also say their innovative product helps boost bees' immunity via flowering plant nectar that have been fertilised with Swift Grow to fight off pathogens that have decimated bee populations.
The best agri innovators in the world
Other NSW innovators at this year’s AgraME include indoor vertical farming solutions from InvertiGro, agriculture supply chain solutions technology from Agtrix, crop nutrition provider Converte, water monitoring equipment maker Farmbot and glasshouse technology experts and organic producer Green Camel.
The Yield Technology Solutions will showcase its industry-leading intelligence tools and data platform, while irrigation systems maker WaterUps will explain its water-saving tools that also minimise waste. ConnectOne Club will show how its secure platform can help farmer associations connect and collaborate in a private domain.
NSW Trade and Investment Commissioner in the Middle East Moin Anwar said the delegation, organised in collaboration with the Australian Agritech Association, was part of the NSW Government’s commitment to supporting innovation and growth in the state’s $35-billion (Dh128.5-billion) agriculture industry.
“AgraME, at this year’s Expo, is an ideal forum to showcase sustainable, innovative agricultural practices from NSW that will help ensure food security in the Middle East,” Anwar said. “With innovation driving solutions to the increasing climatic challenges, there is no better time for Australia and the UAE to work together in the agrifood sector.”
To learn more, visit Investment NSW