Technology in agriculture drives business growth


The Bundaberg Region business sector is showing positive signs of renewed confidence and growth, according to latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Although total business numbers remain steady overall, rising turnover suggests that businesses are consolidating and expanding to position themselves for sustainable futures.

The number of businesses in the agriculture sector with turnover of $10 million or more increased from 11 in June 2017 to 18 last year.

Business employment was also steady, underpinned by an upswing in agriculture, and complemented by increased government jobs in the health sector.

Bundaberg Region business by turnover *

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the overall picture was extremely rosy.

“Despite tough economic conditions and recovering from major floods, Bundaberg Region businesses have shown tremendous resilience,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“We’re now turning the corner with a pipeline of significant projects and the promise of government stimulus through the Regional Deal.

“Council’s open for development program has injected more than $350 million into boosting job-creating new projects.”

Mayor Dempsey said investor confidence was evident through major developments proposed for areas including Burnett Heads and Innes Park.

“Over the next one or two years I expect to see increased business opportunities and employment in the construction sector and trades,” he said.

Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce vice-president Tim Sayre said the numbers for Bundaberg were positive.

“Locally, the #lovebundy campaign is continuing to support business and is helping to build much-needed confidence in our retail sector,” he said.

“While the closure of any business is disappointing, it is encouraging to see others in the sector opening new ventures or taking on new challenges and opportunities as they expand and grow.”

Agribusiness leads the way

Bundaberg Regional Council’s executive director strategic projects and economic development, Ben Artup, said agriculture was a stand-out performer for business growth.

“We saw the second fastest jobs growth in Queensland in percentage terms between the 2011 census and 2016 at 11 per cent,” he said.

“Jobs growth was in health, like everywhere, and agriculture particularly.

“With agriculture, a lot of smaller farms are being purchased by larger corporates or becoming corporatised.

“This is occurring because small farms are increasingly less viable. Driving this consolidation is technology and the benefits of economies of scale.

“Small farms can’t survive without technology and often can’t justify necessary technology investment.”

Agribusiness technology macadamias business growth
Agribusiness and technology are driving business growth in the Bundaberg Region.

Mr Artup cited a local avocado producer who takes 110 pictures of each avocado to classify grades for domestic and international markets.

“They have also invented a new mandarin just for Asia,” he said.

“They couldn’t have done this being a small operation. They’ve also consolidated over the last decade.”

Mr Artup said macadamia producers were among those expanding their turnovers above the $10 million mark.

“They are using all sorts of technology and innovation to grow more nuts at a lower price,” he said.

“Lots of these companies have technologists and onsite labs.

“Agriculture had been contracting as an employer over many years but that’s now changing as technology enhances efficiency and productivity.

“People always say technology causes job losses, but in the Bundaberg Region it’s actually the opposite.”

Employment and Small Business Minister Shannon Fentiman said business growth was a positive picture across Queensland.

Bundaberg Region business by employment **

* Excludes businesses with turnover less than $50,000, ** excludes businesses that don't employ.