James Cook University scientists are set to play a big part in a $200 million-plus scheme producing high-quality food for a world market.
The Federal Government will invest $50 million over ten years in the Food Agility Co-operative Research Centre backed by an extra $160 million in cash and in-kind commitments from industry and universities.
The bid consortium is led by the Knowledge Economy Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), together with QUT and Curtin University.
JCU’s Professor Ian Atkinson said the aim of the centre is to help farmers adapt to rapidly changing markets, and produce safe, high-quality, sustainable food.
“JCU has committed half a million dollars to the project over the next decade and a similar value in staff time.”
He said agribusiness needed a more co-ordinated approach.
“At the moment, food production in Australia is quite disaggregated and unco-ordinated. The CRC intends to take agriculture into the world of digital commerce, of big analytics and data. It will take farming from guess work to a data driven activity.”
Professor Atkinson said the goal was to make the most of a booming agricultural sector. “Global food production needs to double by 2050 but we are lagging our international competitors. This kind of digital integration of agriculture is becoming de rigueur around the world and we are missing out to an extent.”
Professor Atkinson said JCU and its industry partner Commbeef were well-placed to bring technological solutions to the agriculture/ food sector.
“We have the digital homestead project (http://bit.ly/2mubUl3) and our work in aquaculture is world class,” he said.
Professor Ian Atkinson
Food Agility CRC: Leonie Hellmers