The development of a regional export facility to China, operating from within the Canberra International Airport precinct, could mean massive savings for local producers, if stakeholders can be found in great enough numbers to make the project viable.
Daryl Young, director of the Agribusiness Regional Development Association (ARDA), said that local Australian producers now have the opportunity to tap into the Chinese export market through cheap and efficient on-line selling platforms, while cutting out profit-reducing middle men.
“We are proposing a simple systems process which operates through digital connectivity. Currently the process to export our local produce involves nine or so sets of hands, we believe we can bring that number down considerably,” he said.
A series of four regional forums across southern and central NSW came to an end in Wagga Wagga last Wednesday, educating farmers and local agribusiness owners on how to take advantage of the “Asian Dining Boom.”
The meetings ran as part of The Department of Agriculture’s “Farming Together” program, with the aim of bringing potential stakeholders together to explore the establishment of a potential regional export centre.
Mr Young said the meetings were an opportunity to gauge local interest and to open a dialogue more broadly about the challenges of the export industry.
“200,000 Australians are involved in Ag production and value adding business, but less than 30% are currently involved in the export process,” he said.
“The meetings were partly looking for stakeholder interest, trying to develop a network of producers which allow us to build a supply base. This has to be driven by supply, when the levels of supply are sufficient, then we can go to the airlines and negotiate in respect to providing a service.”
Mr Young said the idea of the planning forums and the Canberra airport development plan was about handing control of the export process to local producers.
“In a lot of cases, these overseas markets are places that people in the industry think that they cant access, that it is too difficult. We are showing people that access isn't difficult.”
“Changes are happening allowing low-cost entry into these markets,” he said.
This ease of access, is partly based on the rapid growth of the Chinese E-commerce consumer base, growing from 140 million online shoppers in 2010, to 520 million online shoppers in 2015.
The forums involved presentations from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, regional development authorities and representatives of logistics and freight management companies.