The Land’s community forums, a series of eight events held through the year called The Next Crop, have just passed the half way mark with last week’s event at Moree.
When The Land committed to holding these forums late last year it was a bit of plunge into the unknown in some respects.
We all know rural and regional communities have a lot of factors working against them, be it communications, infrastructure, access to services, effective representation, access to skilled labor and now, once again, drought.
Finding the options and where people, or communities, can start tackling these issues is hard – if it wasn’t, then rural communities would be thriving.
In the lead up to the Moree event, it was mentioned a few times that the uptake of technology is both a blessing and a curse.
Without the labor-saving, and often also cost-saving, benefits most of this technology brings, a lot of farming businesses would struggle to remain productive, let alone grow.
The reality is that with or without the tech revolution, we’d still be losing people. At least with the technology, farmers can find solutions to plug skills shortages gaps.
But increasingly, for a lot of the tech to work, and to attract more people to rural areas, we need better communications infrastructure.
The hitch? The 3.6 gigahertz network which will carry 5G will be auctioned later this year. Being an auction, the highest bidder will take control of access for each region offered.
A lot of new tech, as well as existing businesses, need good internet and mobile connection.
The concern is the new generation mobile network will face the same issues as 4G, which required a public intervention to plug the gaps.
Government has promised the new system will adequately service remote users, but we’re waiting to see how.
Some of the options to patch 4G have been a feature at our forums, but even the providers of these solutions remain unclear of their future under the government’s 5G plans.
This and other issues relating to the success of rural communities have been a feature of our The Next Crop forums. Sessions are still to be held in Cobar on August 2, Yass on September 6 and Lismore, October 4.