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Queensland Prawn Farmers Get Digitalisation Help

The local government is backing Queensland to become the aquaculture capital of the world by helping prawn farmers go digital. The Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities said that the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) will receive $200,000 towards accelerating the adoption of digital systems on Queensland prawn farms.

It was noted that the grants were established under Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan to help farmers to access new opportunities. While the COVID-19 pandemic created serious challenges for the aquaculture sector, the Palaszczuk Government worked closely with the industry to find solutions for emerging problems and stand shoulder to shoulder with producers. This is a direct and practical way that the Palaszczuk Government is supporting the dairy industry as part of Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan, the Minister said.

The APFA Executive Officer said the grant will help transform the industry to be more resilient and sustainable by building a Prawn Skills Digital Training Hub. She noted that Australia’s prawn farming industry is projected to grow substantially in the next five years, creating 3,200 direct and indirect jobs in Queensland alone.

The Prawn Skills Digital Training Hub will provide education and training material free to the industry so that farmers can meet the increased demand for their product, increase their profitability and environmental sustainability. The project will be managed in conjunction with Central Queensland University and supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government.

A total of $5.5 million is being invested over three years through the Digital Transformation in Agribusiness Initiative. This funding, as part of Queensland’s COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, will support agribusinesses to become digitally aware and ready to respond to future disruptions.

Digital technology creates new ways of doing things that add value to the agricultural sector by working more precisely, efficiently and sustainably. It offers innovative ways to connect producers to consumers, reduce problems related to remoteness in rural communities, and attract the next generation to jobs in the industry.

There was strong interest from the industry in the first round of the Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grant Program. There were 22 applications received and the diversity of project proposals demonstrates the opportunities digital technologies create for the sector, the Minister said.

Under a co-investment model, grants of up to $200,000 were offered for projects that enhance digital skills, drive business efficiencies and create regional jobs across Queensland. The approved grants of $1.045 million are for projects that use a range of technologies including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, intelligent apps, big data, automation, artificial intelligence and sensors.

The Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grant Program supports the industry to develop, trial and promote digital solutions in agriculture and food supply chains. The aim of this program is to assist the agribusiness sector to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 by enhancing digital skills, creating regional jobs and driving efficiencies for businesses.

The government is providing up to $1.2 million to industry organisations in Round 1 of the program. Up to $200,000 (excluding GST) is available to successful projects that target industry-wide outcomes. A minimum co-contribution of 50% is required for successful projects, of which 20% is a cash contribution.

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