Revolutionising Australia’s AgriFood sector with data

Agricultural products depend on trusted supply chains with growing pressure for food products to be safe, ethically and sustainably produced and sourced, and of high quality and nutrition. This involves trusted compliance and quality assurance data accompanying products. Getting such data, in a historically diverse and geographically fragmented industry, is challenging and a cost impost to industry.

Agriculture is one of Australia’s most important and iconic industries, both in terms of domestic production as well as in relation to value of exports. However, one of the major barriers that is holding Australia’s agrifood industry back from reaching its full potential is a mechanism for trusted and efficient whole of agriculture data sharing across the supply chain.

Although all major stakeholders have a significant interest in improving the agricultural data ecosystem, the diversity of Australian agriculture and value chain participants has meant that past efforts have been restricted to specific commodities or regions and lacked the resources and impetus to address whole of agriculture change. We know that biosecurity pests and diseases do not organise themselves differently state to state, yet many of our plant and animal compliance records of truth do. The lack of interoperability between systems and platforms is significantly hampering wide adoption of supply chain technology. By contrast, other established and emerging agricultural exporting nations have been making significant investment in data infrastructure to take advantage of the increasing digitisation of farm systems, food safety and export compliance, and logistics planning.

Today’s disparate, siloed, and proprietary data systems that do not enable data owners to easily access and direct the exchange of their data are leading to costly inefficiencies, poor collaboration, wasteful use of critical managerial time. There is no simple single, easy to use data ecosystem in Australia which supports primary producers from across all agricultural industries and other value chain participants to exchange their data efficiently on agreed terms with trusted service providers, or other interested parties such as regulatory bodies and researchers.

The establishment of the Australian AgriFood Data Exchange is designed to address this challenge.

A host of leading agrifood stakeholders including Government, Rural Research & Development Corporations, science and industry related bodies are collaborating to establish the Australian AgriFood Data Exchange. Its aim: to create a trusted and secure interconnected data highway for Australia’s agrifood value chain.

One of the unique attributes of this collaborative project is it is designed for industry, by industry and the operation is intended to be controlled by industry. All of this is to maximise trust in, and engagement with, the Australian AgriFood Data Exchange service.

The Australian AgriFood Data Exchange will enable the trusted sharing of data and tested on a number of different use cases including, for example improving the management of biosecurity in the viticulture sector, providing pre-harvest benchmarking insights for Australia’s grains industry, and digitised certification and compliance for our sheep and lobster industries. These use cases are just the beginning, as the applications are scaled across commodities and additional use cases are added to the service.

This project will invite participation from local and international leading providers of data services, to bring the best of the world’s capability to the advantage of Australia’s agrifood industries.

The Australian AgriFood Data Exchange has received an initial $4 million funding and support from industry and government, including the Australian Government, Meat & Livestock Australia, Charles Sturt University, Food & Agriculture Growth Centre (FIAL), the Victorian Government, Fisheries Rural Research & Development Corporation, the Western Australian Government, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian Wool Innovation, Agrifutures, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Cotton Rural Research Development Corporation, Elders Rural, Federation University, Grower Group Alliance, Australian Eggs, and the New South Wales Government.

It is still early days, with much work to be done. One thing that is crystal clear however is that when it comes to a transformation project of this type, it needs to be an open and inclusive process for all – the door remains open for other parties to join the collaboration. As the inaugural Chair of the Australian AgriFood Data Exchange, the Honourable Andrew Robb AO, says, “Data is the lifeblood of any industry. The Australian AgriFood Data Exchange is a nation building project that will support the growth and resilience of the Australian agrifood industry by building a secure and trusted framework for data to be shared across the sector. This will create transformational opportunities to innovate and supercharge Australian agriculture.”

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