Growing demand for nursery products, good biosecurity to protect the industry, and building on current investments have emerged as key themes from an online survey helping to set investment priorities for the next five years.
There was also recognition that the nursery industry is much more than just ornamental plants and trees, and that there’s opportunities for growth and investment into areas such as forestry, habitat restoration and starter plants for the food industry.
The survey responses are being fed into a workshop next month involving a wide range of key growers and representatives from nursery and allied industry organisations. The outcomes from this workshop will also contribute to the development of a draft investment plan.
Horticulture Innovation Australia is working with the nursery industry to identify the key priorities areas for nursery levy investment in research and development (R&D), and marketing, for the 2017-2021 period.
The survey included a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), as well as asking respondents to identify pressing R&D needs, and trends or opportunities to target through marketing campaigns.
Respondents called for investments that help to position the industry for growth – recognising that it’s a largely domestic market, so this will include increasing demand and finding new markets.
Growing the industry will require continued investment in biosecurity to ensure nurseries are protected from both exotic and endemic threats, and understand pest and disease management strategies.
Increased efficiency and productivity were also key factors in growing the industry, including investment in identifying and adapting automation to minimise labour costs.
From a marketing perspective, one respondent summed up many of the comments: “Growing the pie by putting the financial, health and well-being benefits of plants front and centre of the community’s mind.” This included sourcing quantifiable statistics on plant health benefits, so they can be provided to governments and other decision-makers.
Once the information collected through the survey and the discussions from the November workshop are fed into a draft investment plan, it will be reviewed by the Strategic Investment Advisory Panel.
The draft plan is expected to be released for public comment in late November.