Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces Vol. 210
Posted on: November 27th, 2014


A report by Rabobank analyst Georgia Twomey discussed what would drive profitability for the wool industry in the future. The report said the wool processing sector will also undergo rationalisation and eventually meaningful diversification. However, these shifts are not likely to be rapid. Ms Twomey says a focus on China and a strong trade relationship will be essential to maintain a healthy wool pipeline and security for wool growers in the short to medium term.

As a niche fibre in the global textile market, the importance of fibre quality and relevance for end products will become increasingly important to recognise in order to extract greater value.
Wool’s inclusion in the recent China-Australia FTA agreement with a duty free country-specific quota is a crucial step in further underpinning the strength of our wool trade relationship. Wool remains Australia’s largest rural export to China by value with 75 per cent of the Australian clip exported there in 2013.

Wool has a fantastic opportunity as a fibre already naturally aligned with key demand trends. Broadening the product segments in which fine wool participates and presenting it as a luxury, high-end differentiated fibre will be a key factor in the future sustainability and profitability of the industry. These downstream dynamics – as they have during the past two decades – will continue to play a critical role in on-farm profitability for wool growers.




The head of an Australian biotech company is urging local businesses to get involved in more international collaborations to deliver faster gains in research and development.

Australian Reproductive Technologies managing director Simon Walton is setting up a laboratory in conjunction with Shanghai Dairy that he hopes will advance his home-grown IVF technology.

His call comes as Australian beef and dairy producers look set to make big gains from the recent free trade agreement Australia signed with China.

The joint venture between ART and China’s fourth largest dairy will be based entirely on Walton’s cattle IVF technology. He developed the process by combining aspects of human IVF technology with the cattle IVF procedures he uses to mass produce elite animals for farmers in Rockhampton, Queensland.

“Our relationship with Shanghai Dairy has been based on trust, and we are very happy to transfer all the technology we have and share it with our partners,” he said.

The process he developed delivered higher success rates than elsewhere in the world, he said, but he could make even more improvements through his work with Shanghai Dairy.

The joint venture between the two companies entails the creation of a laboratory at Shanghai Dairy’s farm on Chongming Island, where they hope to achieve more than 10,000 pregnancies a year using eggs from elite dairy cattle.

Mr Walton’s company provides similar services in Rockhampton for beef farmers wanting to capitalise on their best stock, but at the facility in Shanghai, he will carry out vastly more procedures.

“Our technology works better on a bigger scale,” he said.

The facility in Shanghai will also provide Walton with a more tightly controlled environment to test components of his process.

“We’ve got many more variables than there are in China,” he said.

“The biggest variable here is our climate and an unpredictable rainfall, which means unreliable pasture and hence nutrition.”

Shanghai Dairy investment director Henry Gu said he was hoping that by using Walton’s technology, the dairy would be able to dramatically increase the size of its herd and increase milk production from 95,000 to 130,000 litres a year.

Mr Walton said the costs of inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and mechanisation on Australia’s farms had increased disproportionately to the outputs being achieved, so farmers must now look to improve the quality of their animals.

“Australian farmers realise that the next big area of gain has got to come from within the genetics, from within those genetic differences between animals and to identify those very elite animals and mass produce those animals.”

He sees collaboration between universities and businesses, and between Australian and international businesses, as the way to further develop Australia’s innovation.

“Here’s an opportunity where we can have that exchange of information going very openly between countries for the enrichment of both countries,” he said.




Under drizzly skies on the west coast of Norway, Thor Halvor Nygaard surveys the fish in the pens floating in the country’s largest fjord. “It’s a good place for the fish,” says Mr Nygaard, the site manager on the Skredstivik farm for the past 15 years, pointing to the fiord’s strong current, which provides oxygen and helps disperse waste.

The Sognefjord is best known for its breathtaking scenery, with steep mountains plunging into a flooded valley. But the fjord is also one of the best examples of the rise in fish farming, or aquaculture. Norway’s Marine Harvest, the world’s largest producer of salmon and trout, owns the farm. In a few months, the salmon in Skredstivik’s nine pens will be shipped to supermarkets and grocery freezers in the US and Europe.

In the process, they will contribute to a turning point in the global food supply: for the first time, consumption of farmed fish of and seafood this year is set to exceed that of wild fish, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (see chart of the week below).

“The agricultural revolution meant that people no longer needed to hunt,” says Alf-Helge Aarskog, chief executive of Marine Harvest. “That is the same as we are doing [in fishing].”

Farmed fish production has grown by 13 times since 1980, with the industry producing $144bn worth of salmon, shrimp, trout, scallops and many other species in 2012. The amount of captured wild fish has remained stagnant since the 1990s at around 90m tonnes a year as a result of the depletion of key grounds and the introduction of quotas.

The steady rise in demand for seafood catapulted farmed fish production above global beef output in volume terms in 2010. Shrimp and salmon, species where farming has boosted production, top the list for the total global seafood trade, which was worth $136bn in 2013.

Industry executives say farming has brought two crucial changes that have underpinned growth: consistency of supply and much lower consumer prices.

The buoyant outlook has attracted new investors. Mitsubishi, the Japanese trading house, recently bought Norwegian Salmon farmer Cermaq for $1.4bn, suggesting that multinationals have woken up to the financial potential of the sector.

To read more, visit: http://goo.gl/texlTE



Three decades ago, only 11 per cent of the fish and seafood consumed was cultivated. New figures from the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggest while around 80m tonnes of fish were caught “wild” in 2011-12, global aquaculture production set another all-time high at more than 90 million tonnes. In total, the world harvested an extra 10m tonnes of aquatic food in 2012 compared to the previous year. Fish farming holds tremendous promise in response to surging demand for food which is taking place due to global population growth








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