The Australian oilseed industry has a rosy future if it shakes off its lethargic past and grabs a host of opportunities for import replacement and export niches.
That's the bottom line from a strategic plan just released by the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF). The analysis and plan were funded by growers through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Major goals identified for the next five years are: defining the role of the AOF in achieving the industry's vision; improving the market share for Australian oilseeds in local and export markets; improving products and product techniques; improving grower confidence.
Allan McCallum, Chairman of the Grain Council of Australia's Oilseeds and Grain Legumes Committee and Vice President of the AOF, said the industry's commitment to achieving these goals would ensure a seed oil industry that is internationally competitive and one that could substantially replace imports currently valued at $100 million.
The planning report said import replacement quires significant expansion in production, particularly of soybeans and sunflowers. More production "does not imply targeting marginal areas but rather better adapting varieties for suitable growing areas."
GRDC's deputy chairman, John Lovett, said grower confidence is a big factor currently limiting production. "Growers identified price uncertainty, particularly for sunflowers, as one reason other crops are preferred over oilseeds."
"Now an AOF-GRDC partnership has been forged and its launch was noteworthy for the optimism generated by a feeling that the oilseed industry now has direction.
"Both our organisations have common national goals and market orientation," he said.
The report said that in general growers perceived oilseeds to be a riskier and more difficult crop to grow than traditional cereals, especially at a time when sheer survival is uppermost in many minds. Mr McCallum said the report identified marketing knowledge as the key to growing oilseeds successfully. "Our goal is to improve grower confidence and marketing skills. A major first step will be to build links between producers, the AOF and the marketplace."