Tech in ag could help rebuild economy: CSIRO

Tech in ag could help rebuild economy: CSIRO

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Science and technology could help boost ag production and restore the economy, according to a CSIRO report. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Science and technology could help boost ag production and restore the economy, according to a CSIRO report. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

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AGRICULTURE and food are among a number of sectors that could make use of science and technology to help restore economic growth and resilience.

Aa

AGRICULTURE and food are among a number of sectors that could make use of science and technology to help restore economic growth and resilience.

The COVID-19: Recovery and resilience rpoert from CSIRO highlights the trends and national advantages as a result of the pandemic, making mention of how six Australian industries could capitalise on these across the next six to 24 months.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said science and technology created economic growth and opportunity for all Australians.

"At this pivotal time in our history, the inclination is to batten down the hatches and postpone investments, when actually we need to double down on Australian innovation, because science and technology can drive our recovery from this pandemic-led recession and land us back in a much stronger position," he said.

"COVID-19 has disrupted every element of our lives, and while the devastating loss of life can't be understated, we have an opportunity to determine the new kind of Australia we want to emerge from this crisis.

"Just as science and technology have been guiding our health and emergency response, so too will they drive our economic response and recovery from this pandemic."

The report highlights job creation and investment opportunities for the following sectors:

  • Agriculture and food
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Mineral resources
  • Manufacturing
  • Digital

CSIRO Futures lead economist Katherine Wynn said by acting now, Australian industries could increase productivity and cost efficiencies as well as create additional revenue from products, services and markets over the next few years.

"Energy efficient technologies is one immediate way to reduce energy costs, emissions and demand on the grid while creating local jobs, and we see many opportunities for increased productivity, such as energy efficient appliances in buildings and electric vehicles in transport that use mature technologies that are readily adoptable today," Dr Wynn said.

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"The health sector has always been an essential part of Australia's economy and its importance has understandably been further emphasised during the pandemic.

"Over the next 6-24 months, the sector has opportunities for quality of care improvements and cost savings through sector-wide digital health integration.

"We also see potential for more efficient healthcare delivery through point-of-care diagnostics supported by bioinformatics and high-performance computing.

"The manufacturing sector could maximise its local manufacturing capabilities, creating jobs and adding value to Australia's growth sectors, particularly in pharmaceuticals, food and beverage manufacturing, mineral resource processing as well as in space and defence."

Longer term opportunities are also identified as Australia starts to take steps towards building a resilient and future-proof economy from 2022 and beyond.

Among the recommendations for agriculture are alternative proteins to meet the growing middle class, potential health and well-being food options, as wealthier consumers drive demand for "free-from and natural food products", and opportunities to improve productivity and reduce costs by optimising and streamlining the value chain.

In the long-term, traceability and sustainability are also going to be influential trends for the sector, according to the report.

The report consolidates key findings from CSIRO's industry roadmaps and the Australian National Outlook to provide a timely update on a path towards a brighter future for Australia.

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