This consultancy is part of a wider collaboration between the CRCNA and Austrade to support the development of new agricultural activity in Northern Australia.  

The CRCNA plays an important role in ensuring that northern Australia’s industries are competitive, productive and sustainable.  It is committed to realising the vision articulated in the Government’s Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. The CRCNA was established to support industry-led research projects that are critical to the north’s economy and which aim to solve industry problems to achieve enhanced commercial outcomes and economic growth.

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency.  Agriculture and food is one of the agency’s priority sectors and as such, it provides coordinated government assistance at a national level to promote, attract and facilitate productive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Australian agriculture industry.  Austrade also helps Australian agribusiness companies to grow their businesses in international markets. 

Given these shared objectives and work, the CRCNA and Austrade are working together to achieve a greater shared vision and coordination amongst the various institutions involved in attracting investment in northern agricultural development. They also aim to improve agricultural investment pathways for the benefit of the northern Australia economy, its various communities and investors.

Project objectives

The purpose of this project is to identify and characterise the range of potential investors who may be interested in establishing agricultural businesses in northern Australia.  In this context, agricultural development is a general term related to a variety of agricultural practices which increase the value of current production systems. Examples include development of irrigated cropping systems, horticulture, agricultural services and the intensification of cattle production. Such investors should have the capacity to undertake investment in northern Australia in an economic, socially and environmentally beneficial way. Using user-centric design, the project will identify and develop the new approaches, tools and supports that these investors need to make sound decisions about agricultural project feasibility.

This project contributes to a suite of projects commissioned by the CRCNA that aim to de-risk the agricultural investment process in the north. Another related project aims to support the Western Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland Governments to prioritise where development should occur and how to improve the process of attracting and progressing investment in agricultural development outcomes. This second piece of work is anticipated to commence in early 2019 and will likely occur concurrently with this contract.

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Through engagement with the investment community, identify, characterise and prioritise potential key investor types (from global to national and northern Australian scales) with a key interest in investing in agricultural development in northern Australia
  2. Based on knowledge concerning these investors, identify the agricultural sectors and regions across northern Australia with the most potential to support agricultural development investment. This will require a high-level analysis based on a desk top review in conjunction with interviews with Government, Industry Associations and existing agricultural business owners
  3. Based on investor preferences, identify the types or forms of agricultural development most suitable and likely to succeed in the identified regions
  4. Develop and refine the proposed typology of investors based with an interest in investment in key sectors and regions
  5. Develop a potential investor target list for Austrade and State and Territory Governments and CRCNA to work with
  6. Identify, through conversations with Australian and international investor groups, what have been key challenges to their decisions regarding whether to invest in the North (to include discussion on risk, information needs, approval process, financing etc.) and
  7. Identify, through discussions with the above groups, what information potential investors may need to assess the viability of an agricultural development in the north. This should include identifying how the investors would like to receive this information.

Project outputs

It is envisaged that the project will:

  • Deliver a strong typology of prioritised investor opportunities (or combinations of investors)
  • Inform ongoing research and land assessment information development framework by the various northern Australia stakeholder agencies
  • Australian, State and NT government thinking in terms of development prioritisation and processing for de-risking priority regions for development investment
  • Inform future policy and regulatory settings regarding northern development
  • Identify immediate/priority investment opportunities (sourced within and outside Australia)
  • Inform the northern Australia promotion strategy implemented by Austrade and State and Territory investment attraction agencies
  • Identify potential Australian / international partnership models
  • Connect all key players in the northern Australia opportunity
  • Delivery priority strategies that support all governments in lifting investment outcomes and
  • Provide an emerging information platform for ongoing connectivity, planning and collaboration by the various stakeholder agencies.

Overall the Project outcomes should enable the various stakeholder agencies to sharpen their focus and de-risk the regions and associated agricultural opportunities being brought to market.

Proposed methodology

It is expected the consultant will undertake this work through:

  • Targeted conversations with the Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments, Austrade and DFAT
  • Targeted conversations with potential investors and financiers in agriculture in northern Australia (internationally and within southern and northern Australia)
  • Conversations with key northern Australian Farmers’ Associations and Indigenous land development interests (e.g. NAILSMA, ILC and Land Councils)
  • Reviews of previous research by the relevant Federal, State and Territory Industry and research bodies
  • Through co-design approaches, identifying the key challenges and opportunities for the development of these different agricultural sectors in these different regions and
  • Targeted conversations with current southern and northern Australian producers.


Austrade will provide the consultant with:

  • non commercially sensitive intel collated by Austrade in response to specific Investor Information Requests relating to northern Australia;
  • guidance regarding potential investor types and priority markets with an interest in northern Australia; and
  • introductions to known international investors with an interest in northern Australia.

The CRCNA will undertake to provide the consultant with:

  • known research and resources held by the State and Territory Governments;
  • introductions to the key industry associations; and
  • introductions to at least five known significant agriculturalists in northern Australia. The consultant is expected to use his/her network to compliment this work.

More information

 View the Northern agriculture investor EOI form