Australian agriculture had a bumper year in 2020-2021 as the sector witnessed a 17 percent surge in production value.
New data from the 2020-2021 agricultural census released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that the gross value of Australian agriculture hit $70.9 billion (US$49.18 billion) in the 2020-2021 financial year.
The census, which was filled out by 100,000 Australian farmers in July 2021, provided an overview of the agriculture industry.
ABS program manager of agriculture statistics Amanda Clark said the agriculture sector had a good year in 2020-2021 as overall yields stayed above average and many broadacre crops such as wheat, barley, and canola saw record production.
“Total crop values in 2020-21 rose by 41 percent compared with the previous year, while the value of total livestock disposals fell six percent,” said Clark.
“Many farmers reported crop yields being at ‘once in a lifetime levels, with records broken in many regions for key commodities.”
In addition, she said wheat production soared by 120 percent, while its total value grew by 99 percent to $9.9 billion in 2020-2021.
Barley production also jumped by 45 percent, with total value increasing by 24 percent to $3.7 billion.
In comparison, canola saw a 114 percent increase in gross value to $2.9 billion.
Improved Seasonal Conditions Boost Irrigated Crops
Meanwhile, the ABS report stated that the production and value of irrigated crops rose significantly thanks to drought-breaking rainfall and improved seasonal conditions.
In particular, cotton production shot up to 566,000 tonnes in 2020-2021 from 114,700 tonnes in the previous year, while the gross value soared from $300 million to $1.5 billion.
Additionally, around 1.9 million hectares of agricultural land were irrigated across Australia, an increase of 28 percent, as more rain was recorded during the year.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said the 2020-21 financial year was the coolest and wettest for Australia over the past four years.
Meanwhile, livestock saw mixed results. While egg production jumped by nearly a third to over $1 billion, wool and milk production dipped by four percent and three percent to $2.6 billion and $4.7 billion, respectively.
The decreases in the value of livestock disposals occurred because many farmers decided to rebuild their stocks with improved seasonal conditions.
As a result, the beef cattle herd climbed by four percent to 22.1 million head, sheep numbers were up seven percent to 68.1 million head, and the dairy herd rose by one percent to 2.4 million head during the year.
Food Crisis Around The World
The agriculture figures come as the World Bank has warned that a food crisis is hitting many poor and developing countries.
In the latest food security update, the World Bank said that as of July 15, the prices of agriculture products around the world grew by 19 percent compared to January 2021, with maize and wheat prices increasing by 15 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
At the same time, high food price inflation was seen in almost all low and middle-income countries, with many experiencing two-digit inflation.
The international organisation said while food prices stood at high levels before, the war in Ukraine had affected the global trade, production and consumption of commodities, driving food prices even higher.
The World Bank predicted that food prices would continue to remain at historical highs throughout 2024.