CSIRO launches three major new missions to help transform Australia’s agriculture sector

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CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency – has launched three new “missions” that will see more than $150 million invested in key research and development collaborations that will tackle Australia’s biggest agriculture and food challenges.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the three missions together aim ‘to capture a $20 billion opportunity’ for Australian agriculture to solidify its position as a global leader.

“For over a century, CSIRO has been working with farmers and governments to improve life on this great land – but today we’re bringing all of our newest science and technology, from Artificial Intelligence to genetics and smart materials, to bear on overcoming our oldest national challenge – drought,” Dr Marshall said.

“Overcoming the impacts of drought, protecting the authenticity of Australian products, and inventing whole new markets will grow one of our most important national industries.

“Australia has a natural competitive advantage in ‘ag-tech’, the way Silicon Valley does in ‘tech’ – these missions leverage that advantage to grow those local companies and grow the quality of life for Australians working in them.”

The three missions and their respective goals are:

  • Drought Resilience Mission, to reduce the impact of Australian droughts by 30% by 2030. The Mission will see researchers investigate new farming systems that use water more efficiently, technologies to secure regional water supplies and new tools based on localised climate data that will make farming into the future easier.
  • Trusted Agrifood Exports, to increase the value of Australian food exports by $10 billion by 2030. The mission will improve access to high-value markets through new isotopic fingerprinting tools that can support proof of origin for food and verify its clean and green credentials. It will also reduce the cost of meeting export requirements through new automated systems that use sensors and other remote technologies.
  • Future Protein, to grow Australia’s protein industry and produce an additional $10 billion of new products by 2030. Backed by Meat and Livestock Australia and GrainCorp among others, the mission will protect and grow existing livestock and aquaculture industries, develop new plant-based products and use new technologies, such as biomanufacturing to create new proteins or even transform waste products into high value food products.

“Overcoming challenges of this size takes a Team Australia approach, which is why we’re proud to have so many collaborators on board to help Australian agriculture become more resilient, more profitable, and to produce food that is more plentiful and healthier for Australians and our customers around the world,” Dr Marshall said.

According to the statement by Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter, the three Missions are supported by $79 million from CSIRO, with combined contributions of $71 million from industry and government.

“The CSIRO’s missions program is about using innovative science and technology to reach beyond what is possible today to solve Australia’s greatest challenges, and this is certainly the aim of these three missions,” Minister Porter said.

“CSIRO will play a crucial role in fostering collaboration with government, industry and the research sector to drive innovation and deliver strong outcomes for the whole Australian agriculture sector, leading to economic growth and job creation, particularly in our regions.”

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