A landmark report calls for serious leadership and investment in the agricultural potential of the First Nations domain, especially if governments are serious about closing the gap and unlocking the development potential of northern Australia.
The report, commissioned by the Cooperative Research Center for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) and led by the First Nations Portfolio and researchers from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University (ANU), is the first study to examine farming capacity of the First Nations area, which covers over 57% of Australia’s landmass.
ANU Vice President for First Nations, Professor Peter Yu, said governments and businesses across Australia were missing the opportunity for First Nations people to participate in primary production industries.
“This is not only a huge economic loss for our First Nations communities, but also for the nation,” Professor Yu said.
“Our study shows that there is potential for growth in the First Nations primary production industry, particularly on the East Coast, the South West corner of Western Australia and our northern coastline.
“Although relatively small, there is an emerging and unique First Nations primary production industry that is diverse, increasingly financially viable, and provides significant cultural, social and environmental benefits.
“However, the extent of the First Nations primary production sector is not well known. We found little statistical or other data that captures the extent to which primary products created by the First Nations domain contribute to regional and national economies and to our benefit. “
The study identified 95 First Nations primary production companies across Australia, the majority of them located in northern Australia. Researchers argue that the lack of data and frameworks to capture that data limits First Nations participation in public policy and business decisions.
The report’s authors say the business model of First Nations companies is also “very suitable” for investments focused on the environment, society and governance (ESG).
“Yet very few of these companies have attracted private capital,” Professor Yu said. .
“There is a real opportunity to attract social impact and other ESG-oriented investments in the emerging First Nations sector.”
To achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, the report calls for the creation of a First Nations Primary Industries Task Force, which would see First Nations governments, industry and organizations working together to establish appropriate frameworks and strategies. to promote primary production and agricultural businesses on First Nations land. .
The study was co-funded by the CRCNA and the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) and undertaken in partnership with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Read the full report on line.