Growth in the Agricultural Services sector shows that agriculture is maturing in the Darwin area
Between 2002 and 2015 more than half new jobs in agriculture were in the services sector and the number of businesses in that sector increased from 29 to 59 (BLADE).
Poor access to agricultural services has been identified as a constraint to northern development. The growth of this sector shows that some of the constraints have been removed as the industry has matured (Figure 1).
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing support services includes activities like aerial spraying, crop harvesting, irrigation services, fertiliser spreading, fruit and vegetable picking, labour hire and contracting, hay baling, livestock dipping and drafting, and seed grading. In the beginning of the century this sector was generating less than $10 million which was a contribution of less than 10% to the agriculture industry. By 2014-15 this had risen to over $40 million, or almost 20% of all agriculture turnover (BLADE).
The increase was due to a combination of an increase in the amount of support services work being done, and a change in business structures and operations management. For example, a mango farm may have previously been employing its own pickers, but subsequently outsourced this work to a support services business.
During this 15 year period there was a 19% decrease in the overall number of agriculture businesses, while the number of support services businesses doubled, from 29 to 59 active businesses. The proportion of Agriculture businesses that were in the services sector increased from 5% to 12%.
Between 2002-03 and 2014-15 there were an additional 232 full time equivalents employed in Agriculture businesses; more than half of these (132) were in the services sector (BLADE).