Agriculture in Australia

Zhou, Zhang-yue (2013) Agriculture in Australia. China Agriculture Press, Beijing, China.

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[Preface] Australian aboriginals are hunters and gatherers. There was no agriculture in Australia prior to the arrival of the first European settlers in 1788. Since then, in a short history of a little over 220 years, Australian farmers have advanced Australian agriculture from non-existence to where it is now: one of the most advanced and efficient in the world. What has driven Australian agriculture to advance so fast? What are the experiences and lessons from Australia's agricultural development? Could such experiences and lessons be of value to help China further its agricultural development? These questions have always fascinated me and I often try to relate Australia's agricultural practice to that of China or the other way around. However, although I have lived and worked in Australia for almost 30 years, I have not spent much time examining Australia's agricultural development in a systematic manner and relate it back to that of China. I have largely focused my research work on China's agricultural development and have only written a couple of articles about Australian agriculture and its relevance to China.

In early April 2009, I received an email from Mr Wenwu Ke, Director of Agricultural Economics Division of China Agricultural Press in Beijing. Wenwu told me that China Agricultural Press was going to publish a book series on foreign agriculture for readers in China and asked me if I could write the book on Australian agriculture. This was a great opportunity that would force me to examine Australia's agricultural development in a more systematic way. Hence, I happily accepted this request.

China's achievements in agricultural growth and progress have been most remarkable in the past three decades. I believe that there is still potential for China's agriculture to grow. However, it is noted that in past years, various problems, some being very serious, concerning China's agriculture have emerged, such as resource damage, environmental pollution, unsafe food and disputes over land use. Such problems, to a large extent, have hindered further agricultural development in China. To resolve these problems, more institutional reforms and innovations are needed.

Looking beyond the limited confines of one's own nation can help seeking new solutions to old problems by comparing one's own practices with those used elsewhere. Australia's key experience in successfully developing its agriculture is to establish institutional arrangements conducive to agricultural development and constantly explore ways to improve such arrangements.

Australia's experience can be of great relevance to China's future agricultural development. The major motivation for me to write this book is to introduce Australia's agricultural development experiences in a more systematic way to those who are engaged in, or care about, China's agricultural development. Major readers include (1) government officials and researchers who are engaged in agricultural planning, policy making and development; (2) university students, both undergraduates and postgraduates, who study issues concerning China's agricultural development and are interested in looking into Australia's experiences; and (3) consultants of agricultural consulting companies. In addition, those who are interested in investing in Australian agriculture will find this book valuable to help them understand Australian agriculture.

At the time when I accepted the task to write this book, I was quite confident about accomplishing it. This is simply because of the following fact. Due to my personal interest in agricultural issues, I always pay much attention to what is happening in Australian agriculture. I take any opportunities to interact with those who are engaged in Australian agriculture, including farmers, government officials, agricultural traders, agricultural consultants, teaching staff and students of agricultural colleges, and agricultural researchers. Also, I came to Australia to reside soon after the large-scale agricultural reforms started in Australia, which has allowed me the opportunity to observe the reforming process over the past years. As such, I thought I knew a fair bit about Australian agriculture. Surprisingly, soon after I started my serious writing, I found that I did not know as much about Australian agriculture as I had previously perceived. No choice, other than that I had to learn more.

Fortunately, many of those industry contacts I had came to my rescue. They helped me enormously to quickly grasp many important issues related to Australian agriculture. They also helped to introduce me to many other industry personnel. Due to their genuine assistance, it was possible for me to have extensive and in-depth discussions and exchanges with farmers, researchers; traders, industry leaders and government officials in all states and territories. These visits also gave me the opportunity to inspect farm fields, trading facilities, research laboratories and so on. Such personal interactions and field inspections greatly improved my understanding of Australian agriculture.

My university, James Cook University, provided generous support and assistance for my research work. To enable me to travel to different states and territories to visit industry personnel, my university granted me a Special Studies Leave in the second half of 2010. Both my university and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) provided me with financial assistance for my field work.

Item ID: 30838
Item Type: Book (Research - A1)
ISBN: 978-7-109-17760-4
Keywords: Ausgtralian agriculture, Chinese agriculture, agricultural reforms, agricultural development
Date Deposited: 26 May 2014 02:29
FoR Codes: 14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140201 Agricultural Economics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9102 Microeconomics > 910203 Industrial Organisations @ 100%
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