A dose of rural initiative can go a long way

Buy from the Bush campaign a good example of what's possible

Opinion
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The early response from the Buy from the Bush campaign demonstrates the power of our purchasing decisions and how people in metropolitan areas really can make a difference - and not just during times of drought.

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A lot can change in a short time in the bush, and is just one reason to hang on to hope in an otherwise dire season.

A great example is the Buy from the Bush campaign, featured on this week's front cover, which we've focused on to tie in with our special liftout feature, 100 Stories of Hope - a collaboration across our agricultural newsrooms at The Land, Stock & Land and Queensland Country Life, as well as with our Farmonline national writers.

The brains behind Buy from the Bush, Grace Brennan, sums up how quickly this initiative has changed the fortunes for some of the businesses so far involved.

Some had more business in a fortnight than for the whole of the previous financial year, and the flow-on extends to services like Australia Post, due to the extra deliveries, which is also in need of a boost.

"The long-term outcomes are incredible as jewellery makers and artists are being found by retailers and wholesalers who want to stock their stuff," Mrs Brennan says, adding that one business picked up an extra 4000 followers through the initiative - all potential new customers.

A lot of these businesses are being run from farms or country towns in drought-hit areas where the farm income has been severely depleted and is limiting the amount being spent in the local town's main street.

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However, in a digital age, the outcomes of this initiative are perhaps a glimpse of the potential that exists and begs the question, how much opportunity is going untapped due to limitations with our communications infrastructure?

How much more resilient could rural communities be if it was easier to engage digitally with a larger geographical customer base? The more remote, the greater the impact could be.

Perhaps a vision for rural growth should be a ramping up of rural communications beyond what the major telcos will provide under their own steam.

Mrs Brennan's initiative supports businesses in a way that is healthier for the community and the economy and offers a way people can support cash flow, including tax, rather than drawing on the taxpayer to subsidise businesses, either via the tax dollar or donations.

This demonstrates the power of our purchasing decisions and how people in metropolitan areas really can make a difference - and not just during times of drought.

It is a simple, practical message.

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