Territory Stories

Plant Industries NT newsletter



Plant Industries NT newsletter

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PINT newsletter


Northern Territory. Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Plant Industries Division


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Horticulture industry; Agriculture; Rangelands; Management; Northern Territory; Periodicals; Cattle industry

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Northern Territory Government

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Plant Industries NT newsletter


Newsletter, February 2012

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Northern Territory Government



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. Page 5 of 8 Taking stock of the NT fodder industry Melissa Fraser, Regional Team Leader, Plant Industries Group NT grown field and fodder crops contributed $18m to the Territory economy in 2010. The sector was dominated primarily with fodder crops (hay and maize) grown under both dryland and irrigated conditions by farmers and pastoralists across the Top End, Douglas Daly, Katherine, Mataranka and Barkley regions. The size of the industry has grown steadily over the past 15 years, supplying the local cattle industry with raw and processed fodder products, for the live cattle trade to Indonesia. Little is currently known about the NT Fodder Industry in terms of size or volume of production, quality attributes, domestic consumption, the costs associated with transporting and processing fodder products, or the volume that is currently being imported and exported across Territory borders. It is recognised that there is no basis of payment for product quality, other than legume hay, primarily Cavalcade, generally fetches a higher price than grass hay. This is in contrast to southern markets where fodder price is increasingly determined by quality parameters such as the amount of energy or protein the feed is test at. Absence of quality parameters provides little incentive to the producer and is seen as a significant barrier to the development of the industry. In November 2009 a fodder information forum was convened by the NT Agricultural Association (NTAgA) in response to concerns raised by local fodder producers. The Association concluded: If the fodder industry is to advance, it has to develop better market intelligence, and determine its true size, and needs of the industry and to provide information and training on quality and nutritional aspects of producing and feeding hay in the NT. There is also a need to explore alternative domestic markets. To ensure the NT fodder industry remains economically viable in the future it is vital that industry gain an understanding of the current and future requirements of their customers, and then determine if and how these needs can best be met, i.e. a sound analysis of the value chain is required. The concept of value chain thinking and analysis requires a shift in focus from the supply base and producers of the product, to considering the customer base and consumers, with the aim of identifying opportunities to differentiate and add value wherever consumer preferences make doing so profitable. In value chains the aim is to align the chain to the needs of the end consumer, using management (rather than markets) as the mechanism for coordinating product and information flow between the various players. Much of the research conducted by the Department on fodder crops has been focused on increasing the efficiency of the farming system behind the farm-gate, with little or no effort dedicated to examining how efficiency and value can be increased beyond the farm-gate. This is a major shift in focus aimed at learning how to do the fodder business better. The NT Pastoral Industry is the major customer for locally produced fodder products. Hence, the future of the fodder industry is also exclusively geared to the fortunes of the cattle industry. The Department is conducting its Pastoral Industry Survey. It will collate data and information on management practices specific to fodder production, consumption and demand on all NT stations that carry more than 300 head of breeder cattle. To complement the data collected in the Pastoral Survey, an additional fodder industry survey has been developed. This will target other fodder customers and value chain members in the NT, and gather market and production intelligence, assess opportunities and weaknesses, and determine the capacity of the fodder industry to meet current and future demand. The collection of these data will facilitate the development of future research and extension programs for the fodder industry. It will also capture information from input suppliers, producers, transporters, processors and customers of hay and processed fodder products in the NT. If you are one of these stakeholders