The industry supporting us all

The agriculture industry in the Northern Territory (NT) is highly developed, supporting individuals, families, and businesses in Australia and internationally. For the past decade, the agriculture industry has sustained rural and remote economies in the Territory providing direct jobs to 1.6% of the employed workforce. The sector has contributed an average of 2.9% to the NT’s Gross State Product (GSP) between 2009-2019, which is higher than the national estimate of 2.5%. The agriculture industry does not only provide employment and contribute to GSP; it also offers fresh and healthy produce to improve the wellbeing of Territorians.

Although the industry continuously plays a significant role in the development of the NT economy, it has encountered numerous workforce challenges. Major workforce issues affecting the industry includes recruitment and retention difficulties. In addition, shortages of critical occupations and skills relevant to the industry’s growth are also in demand. The workforce challenges some Territory farmers face has been compounded by COVID-19, which has had varying impacts across the agriculture industry. Furthermore, the automation of many farms in the NT has resulted in demand for new skill sets to operate certain sophisticated types of machinery. These new skill sets are often difficult to fill.

Projections show a prospect for higher demand for agriculture products, which may result in further investments and expansions of the agriculture sector in the NT. This may increase workforce demands and exacerbate current workforce-related challenges in the industry. Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the reporting of NT specific workforce data, and in cases where data exist, the NT has been merged with other Australian states. It is, therefore, imperative to collate and analyse workforce-related data to inform both current and future planning of the agriculture industry, thus, the purpose of this Insight.

Your participation in this Insight’s research will add value to the NT’s agriculture workforce database through an understanding of up-to-date contextual issues impacting the sector and local businesses. Any interested stakeholders in the agriculture industry are encouraged to contact ISACNT’s research and projects team via phone or email to participate in the study.

Bettina Blackwood       Ph: 08 8967 1594

Matthew Abunyewah  Ph: 08 8967 1592 

Jevon Bangar                 Ph: 08 7913 7512