The Queensland government has announced the first grant from it agribusiness digital transformation program, co-investing almost $160,000 in a Bundaberg fruit and vegetable co-op’s digital project.
Eight more grant recipients have been approved for more than $1 million in total grants for various agtech projects, but they will be announced progressively by the state government.
The inaugural grant has been awarded to the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers to fund 50 per cent of a $330,000 digital platform and provenance project for member growers.
The project will deliver an online dashboard for growers in the Wide Bay region, demonstrate an “integrated blockchain paddock to plate system”, trial other traceability technology, and extend a training program.
“This funding, as part of our COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, will support agribusinesses to become digitally aware and ready to respond to future disruptions,” Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said.
“Digital technology creates new ways of doing things that adds value to the agricultural sector by working more precisely, efficiently and sustainably.”
The Queensland government has allocated $5.5 million over three years to a Digital Transformation in Agribusiness initiative as part of its COVID-19 recovery.
It includes up to $1.2 million in grants for industry organisations to help develop and trial agtech in the first round of an Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grant Program.
Applications for the first round closed in November last year and attracted 22 entries, but the first recipient wasn’t announced by the government until Monday.
Mr Furner said there was strong interest in the grants.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Labor member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said the grant to the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers would create new digital and internet-based opportunities for its members.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic created serious challenges for the agriculture sector, but the Palaszczuk Government has worked closely with industry to find solutions for emerging problems and stand shoulder to shoulder with our farmers,” Mr Smith said.
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