At the heart of our economy, agriculture has traditionally been the mainstay industry in most towns and localities across the Orana.
Agriculture is the largest employer in the region, with 6711 employees and an output of $2,283,304 and a value-add of 11.6% to the economy.
In recent years, the industry has been crippled by drought, which has had a ripple effect in local communities.
While rainfall has certainly improved conditions across this area, most of the region is still drought-affected with only patches of visible recovery.
The cotton harvest has been modest due to tight water restrictions and while rainfall has provided an excellent start to the winter cropping season, plantings will need more rainfall in the next few months to be sustainable.
Like other sectors, agriculture has been impacted by COVID-19. As an essential service industry, agriculture includes farming, forestry, fibre production, food and beverage production and saleyards and auctions. The main effects on the industry has been contact between primary producers and agribusiness and disruptions to supply chains caused by shortages, accessibility to markets and trading restrictions.
However, consistency across agriculture, transport and food processing shows the region's tangibility and resilience. With discipline and good management, we have been able to continue operations in these areas.
RDA Orana's recent COVID-19 Business Impact Survey showed that 11.9% of respondents work in agriculture and 45.89% of businesses have been affected by the drought.
It also revealed that 13.04% of employees had lost their jobs in this sector since the pandemic began, with further losses of 7.82% after May 1.
With Australia now in recession, REMPLAN has forecast that the GDP will contract by 6.9%. In the agriculture sector, recovery will need to be aided by community support and access to trade and export opportunities.
Agriculture plays a crucial role in our economy, providing food, income and employment to rural populations. Everything that happens in this field impacts on all other sectors. The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment is working towards keeping our agriculture industry strong and agile, while safeguarding our environment and foreign interests. At a local level, this means supporting local producers, buying homegrown products and maintaining these industries. Boosting this sector may be as simple as visiting the local butcher or supporting the fruit and vegetable shop which will in turn give back to the economy. There are some agriculture employment opportunities in this region and there will be a chance to revive the sector with strength and support.
RDA Orana is a not for profit business that receives federal funding to support regional and economic development initiatives across the Orana region. Our mission is to support sustainable economic growth through the provision of regional intelligence that creates connections and collaborations, supports investment decisions by business and government, and that encourages the development of our workforce. To find out more visit rdaorana.org.au
Regional Recovery with RDA Orana is a series of columns produced by RDA Orana looking at the impacts of COVID-19 and the road to recovery for our community.
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