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Completed project

Lean design workshop to understand future challenges for horticulture production in tropical and subtropical regions of Australia (AS21003)

Key research provider: The University of Queensland
Publication date: Monday, July 3, 2023

What was it all about?

In 2022, this short project used a lean design approach to explore the challenges and opportunities that tropical and subtropical horticulture will face over the next five-to-ten years. It also identified what transformational research and development (R&D) will be required to ensure the industry's long-term sustainability and global competitiveness.

The project identified industry-wide challenges and opportunities through stakeholder engagement activities, including a survey, interviews, and a workshop. The participants provided insights on the current and future challenges for horticulture.

Adapting to changing climate and climate policy was recognised as massive challenge, including coping with the operational requirements and costs associated with implementing zero net emission technologies. Increasing production costs, the need for automation to meet environmental goals and labour, and reliable market access were highlighted as long-term challenges to maintaining profitable businesses. The requirement for sustainable and alternative cost-effective options on multiple fronts including biosecurity threats and managing pest incursions to reduce challenges from pesticide resistance and MRL breaches and to safeguard market access was highlighted.

A summary of the transformational opportunities identified across regions and tropical and subtropical crops include:

  1. Implement climate-resilient production systems (controlled environments and outdoors) to enable growers to meet the demands of climate change.
  2. Harness digital technology to improve logistics and supply chain efficiency based on low carbon footprint farming.
  3. Build environmentally sustainable crop protection systems to reduce pesticide use and improve market access.
  4. Build a skilled labour force to utilise technology capability and support the horticulture industry of the future.
  5. Develop new products, diversify product ranges for future consumer needs, for increased domestic and international market access.

The transformational thinking that addresses future challenges could be supported by consumer education on healthy and nutritious foods, addressing knowledge asymmetries, capacity building, and sharing information and discovery across all horticulture industry.