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North Coast Organic Farming Profile launched

Djanbun Permaculture Garden NimbinNorth Coast Local Land Services has commissioned research that will help the organisation better meet the needs of the North Coast organic farming sector.  The Organic Food in the North Coast Region of NSW report was developed by Eco Logical Australia and provides a snapshot of this growing industry.

The North Coast supports a diverse range of agricultural enterprises within a region of high biodiversity, scenic beauty, and a fast growing urban population. Within that diversity, North Coast Local Land Services provides land managers and the community advice and services to maintain natural resources, improve biosecurity, enhance agricultural production, and be better prepared for emergencies.

North Coast Local Land Services commissioned the Report to facilitate a greater understanding of the nature of the organic farming industry and how this growing industry will provide future opportunities for agricultural growth and ecological sustainability across the region.

Dr Phil Pisanu, Team Leader Monitoring and Evaluation said, "This research will help target investment to sectors of the organic farming sector on the North Coast that offer the greatest potential for further industry growth."

The total value of the certified organic industry in Australia is currently about $1.7 billion (including production, processing, packaging, retail and wholesale), of which about 80% is domestic and 20% is export.

The annual growth rate of organic agri-business in Australia is over 15%, more than four times that of conventional agriculture. Over 2,500 certified organic businesses now operate in Australia including 1,700 primary producers, 700 processors and 100 wholesalers.

In the North Coast region, a diversity of organic businesses operate from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie and the Report has identified annual revenue from organic produce in the region at about $24 million.

There are 270 certified organic businesses operating in the region, which is roughly 35% of all certified businesses in New South Wales and 10% of all certified organic businesses in Australia.  The total annual turnover of the organic industry is currently estimated at $170 million, including revenue for processing, packaging, retailing, wholesaling and exporting, as well as production.

The most popular organic foods include garlic, citrus, pumpkin, ginger, turmeric, avocadoes, macadamias, bananas, mangoes, melons, seasonal and green vegetables, seasonal fruit, herbs and spices, and beef cattle with each grown by at least 20 organic producers.

The report also examines the opportunity provided by marketing to overseas markets.  Thirteen North Coast businesses are currently certified to export organic produce to overseas markets, with popular goods for overseas markets including essentials oils and packaged foods (including tea and coffee).

Dr Pisanu concluded, "The report will be used to identify ways to support the expanding organic sector.

"We also hope to further encourage the industry's sustainable approach to land management, soil health and water quality, with organic production requiring use of natural mulching and fertilisers, and natural weed and pest control."

The full report is available here.

Media contact:           Dr Phil Pisanu Phone 0447 356 477

Photo caption:           Organic produce provides a significant opportunity for the North Coast.