Queensland Planner, (Summer 2013 Vol. 53 No. 4)
Agriculture is a risky business. The variables farmers evaluate and plan for include weather, markets, supply chain, finance, labour, changing policy and legislation, natural disasters, pests and disease. Forecasts of a world population approaching nine billion with more than half the middle class living in Asia by 2020 are anticipated to drive major changes in global food demand and investment in agriculture, already a major contributor to Northern Australia’s economy. Northern Australia’s opportunities for further agricultural development are diverse, but not agreed, and being actively explored by contemporary Australia. In February 2011, cyclone Yasi cut a swathe through Far North Queensland’s natural and production environments, compounding cyclone Larry’s impacts five years previous.
Whilst cyclones are geographically defined, their impact manifests in the convoluted environment of world markets and social systems. How can industry expansion be contemplated when the incidence of such disasters is predicted to increase as a consequence of climate change? Now is a strategic time for planners to consider how an expanding Northern Australian agricultural industry can prepare for the disasters it will encounter whilst embracing sustainable agriculture and community well-being. This paper, through literature and personal experience analysis, considers the relevance of history to contemporary aspirations and introduces resilience alongside production as research objectives, as literature suggests that not only are resilient organisations about surviving, but thriving.
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