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passion to


The magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 October/November 2011

The Australian subtropical coffee industry Finding your feet online NRIA conference 2012 NRIA welcomes new CEO

Visit our website && Get the latest news on NRIA. && Learn all about the new rural industries. && Access links to industry associations and organisations. && Read profiles of producers. && Access to articles on subjects common to all involved in new rural industries. && Access to conference presentations and papers. && Join NRIA as a member.

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Passion to Profit the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia ISSN 1838-6008

The magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 1 October 2010

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia, is published online every two months, free of charge. It is sent directly to members of New Rural Industries Australia as well as to new rural industry peak bodies and allied industries. Membership to NRIA available at All rights reserved. New Rural Industries Australia Endeavour House, 2/106 Capt Cook Cres. Manuka, ACT 2603, Australia.

NRIA Conference and Expo 2010

Advertising: For advertising rate card contact and all ad bookings, email

Producing a product successfully

ISSN 1838-6016


Editor: Lana Mitchell.

Tax and Primary Production

Editorial Contributions are welcome and should be emailed to the editor.

Collective Marketing – what are the choices?

Designer: Cheryl Zwart of Orphix Publisher: New Rural Industries Australia Advertising:

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The magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 4 June/July 2011

Copyright: No material published in Passion to Profit may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the New Rural Industries Australia. Disclaimer: The publisher reserves the right to refuse any application considered inappropriate. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of New Rural Industries Australia. Whilst every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within the magazine, the publisher, printer and their agents cannot accept responsibility for error or omission. Views held by contributors are their own and do not necessarily coincide with those of the publisher or editor. Advertising is published subject to the terms and conditions of the Passion to Profit rate card 2011, available through

Global “Worming” Irrigation practices & systems Agritourism: Connecting communities

Inside A word from the Editor Welcome Women and new rural industries


Farm tips

NEWS: News in Brief NRIA Conference 2012 NRIA welcomes new CEO Twitter forum – calling on new rural industries New RIRDC board directors announced The latest on truffles Exotic tropical fruit hit hard times Research alliance


4 5 10 20 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9



Jock Douglas of Australian Desert Limes



Jos and Wendy Webber



Rob and Jen Egerton-Warburton of Lucinda’s Everlastings




Jason Masters of Wrapped Creations

COLLABORATION: Don’t stare at the horizon just to trip on the road


By Peter Fritz and Jeanne-Vida Douglas Finding your feet online?


By Youna Angevin-Castro Adopting the web


By LCubed


The Australian subtropical coffee industry By Jos Webber

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011



of Kahawa Coffee


A word from the Editor I read a fascinating article recently by Phil Ruthven, the Chairman of IBIS World. The article, entitled “The Future of Agriculture” details how agriculture in Australia is a shadow of its once illustrious self.

5. Outsource everything you can get cheaper and better than DIY (ploughing, seeding, harvesting, etc.) 6. Do not own land, buildings, equipment, stock or debtors. 7. Work the brain (intellectual property) harder than the body. 8. Add value to the farm not factory (ie. high-quality fresh produce is often better than that which is processed). 9. Have long-term contracts and relationships, not spot markets. 10. Franchise or be a franchisee, wherever possible.

“It is hard to believe that our agriculture, fishing and forestry industry contributed just one 15th (2.1 per cent) of our annual wealth (gross domestic product or GDP) as we closed out the first decade of the new century in 2010.”

I must say I do agree with Phil’s philosophy. There are just a few additional commandments I would add to the list, and they are: 11. Do all you can to encourage the sharing of information and collaboration of resources, opportunities and networks. Our industries grow to the degree that we share lessons learned and increase efficiency, profitability and viability. 12. Look for new innovative products, technologies and ways of doing business. It is an evolving scene and the world is changing rapidly. To both survive and succeed – our rural enterprises must change with it. And with that, I introduce the October/November issue of Passion to Profit magazine. An issue full of news, opportunities, innovators, and collaborators.

Phil goes on to detail the big changes that have occurred in agriculture. There have been shifts in the markets from Europe and North America to the Asia Pacific. There have been new product shifts from livestock products (especially wool and dairy) into beef, horticulture, cotton, oil seed, grain legumes, aquaculture, crustaceans/mollusks, floriculture and outsourced services. There have been new systems and technologies that have come into use – specifically water husbandry, dry land farming, hydroponics, fish farming, dominance of man-made forests (over native), laser leveling, varietal development, biotechnology (genetic engineering, tissue culturing, hybridisation, etc.). There has been a shift to new locations, particularly to the North – with WA, QLD and NT emerging as the key growth areas. There has also been a shift in the structure of agricultural businesses from land ownership to leasing/rental (from specialised trusts); subcontracting of agricultural services; contract supply of agricultural produce to local and overseas manufacturers and development of franchises.

There is much happening in NRIA. We have a new CEO, Ben White, who we introduce in this issue. We have an upcoming conference in March of 2012.

In my view, what Phil is observing is evolution of an industry. The economics of the business climate have changed drastically in the last 50 years – and even more so in recent times. Land sizes have gone down, prices have gone up, staff are harder to find, and the markets are tighter and harder to break into. All this has forced innovation to lead the way. And new rural industries are up front and centre when it comes to innovation. Phil Ruthven proposes ways in which agriculture can be rebuilt – listing them as the Ten Commandments for farmers: 1. Change what you do from a way of life to a business. 2. Don’t blame other countries. Play a different game. 3. Grow what the market wants, not what you have always grown. 4. Don’t pray for rain. Make sure you’ve got water.


There is a new online forum on the NRIA website. We have new alliances building and an ever growing network of people collaborating to build their business and respective industries. Read all the details in the pages that follow. We trust you will enjoy our latest issue! Lana Mitchell Editor PS. There was an error in the August/September issue in that the byline on an article entitled Surviving Failure was incorrect. The article was written by Youna Angevin-Castro and we thank her for the great article.

COVER Photo:

Australian-grown coffee – courtesy of Kahawa Coffee, located in Tintenbar NSW. Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

What is the NRIA? NRIA works to be a comprehensive, one-stop source for valuable information. We keep stakeholders abreast of news and issues. We provide conferences, workshops, events and our magazine for networking and developing business relationships that build your business. We also assist people to solve problems and improve their bottom line.

Background In 2009, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) hosted a forum of new industries where participants recognised the benefits of information sharing and cooperation with others. Industry leaders agreed on the need for an industry alliance, representing new and emerging Australian rural industries, to maximise the economic benefits Australia gains from such industries and to encourage new industries. This stimulated the development of NRIA. We are now 1½ years old, we have seed funding, a growing number of subscribers and members, as well as a number of alliances. Our first (and very well attended) conference was held late last year and we have also held a series of workshops in recent months on the subject of weed control and minor use chemicals. Our next conference is planned for March of 2012, in Victoria. The NRIA is not an industry body of industry bodies – nor does it replace existing industry bodies. We are here to provide an additional link, an additional supply of information and assistance, and also to provide a network of like-minded,

innovative people, working to start, develop, build or further expand one or more Australian new rural industries. The NRIA provides individual participants and smaller industry-specific groups with a far more powerful voice and the collective strength to lobby much more effectively. We also work to promote the new rural industries and build the public demand for our diverse products. To find out more about NRIA, and to get a free subscription to our services and magazine, simply visit

Building alliances

Meltwater News Pty Ltd, an international company specialising in media monitoring and provides us with the latest news on key new rural industries. Farm Plus Ltd, a company that specialises in the creation of knowledge data bases on specific subjects. They are creating a comprehensive search engine for the many subjects common to new rural industries. Details coming soon. AgTech Ltd, a company that owns Farm Minder, Pest Genie and other agricultural software, gives members of NRIA major discounts to subscriptions to the Farm Minder system, giving them access to up to date chemical MSDS information, software for recording/tracking chemical usage, compliance with strict OH&S laws and more. Plant Health Australia. NRIA is an associate member of Plant Health Australia, so any industry body registered as a member of NRIA, is an automatic member of Plant Health Australia and its industry can receive the benefits of NRIA’s associate membership with PHA if there is a disease or pest outbreak in that industry.

New forum launched In response to demand, NRIA has now launched our new forum at the NRIA website. This forum platform has been built specifically to enable new rural industry participants to collaborate and share information on key topics – and even to advertise products and services for sale.

Whether you wish to ask questions of others, or wish to make your views known on key hot topics – the forum is for you. Access to the forum requires registration, which is free. You can access the forum at

We look forward to hearing from you.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


NRIA is a not-for-profit company working to facilitate the development and building of capacity of new and innovative Australian rural industries.



Alpaca on the menu Alpaca steaks could soon be found in some local butchers’ shops. The South American animals are becoming increasingly popular with Australian farmers for their wool and to protect sheep from foxes. There is also now a niche market for alpaca meat in specialty restaurants.

AQIS export overhaul Australia’s $5.5 billion meat export industry is poised to undergo the most significant reform in decades with substantial changes to Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) protocols. The Federal Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, recently announced a new co-regulatory arrangement, called the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS), to be implemented from October 1. The industry will no longer get a 40 per cent rebate on fees. To offset the cost to industry, the Government will provide $25.8 million across three years in support, with the industry to return to full cost recovery by 2013. Mr Ludwig said the changes would cut red tape, support regional jobs and improve Australia’s export meat industry’s competitiveness. The reform legislation will be tabled in parliament in coming weeks.

Bee-keepers wage war on invading Asian Honey Bees Milawa bee-keeper Rod Whitehead is packing his bags and heading north. He’s joining a front-line militia of volunteer fighters trying to keep Australia free of a black-and-yellow peril. He and fellow bee-keepers from around Australia are paying their own way to live in hostels in Cairns so they can track swarms of the insidious Asian bee, an unwanted immigrant that came ashore on board a yacht in Cairns in 2007. When the federal government pulled the pin on an eradication program earlier this year, the honey industry swung into action, calling on its members to go north and protect the nation.

Olive oil conference Growers, consumers and olive enthusiasts alike will gather on the 25th and 26th of October, in Wangaratta to discuss the current issues facing the olive industry. The theme for this year’s conference is “Restoring Trust in the Trade of Olive Oil”. This year’s conference will have important contingents from Italy, Spain and the USA who will discuss quality issues in their countries and measures they’ve undertaken to help alleviate mislabeling and fraud.

Goat demand grows Demand has jumped for goat’s milk, cheese and soap, especially from people suffering allergies or who are lactose intolerant. It is hoped the trend will lead to the rapid expansion of goat farming in Australia.


NRIA Conference 2012


The board of NRIA is proud to announce that the next NRIA conference is going to be held in March of 2012, in Victoria. No exact dates or venue has yet been set – as we wish to give industry organisations and potential venue sites opportunity to collaborate.

If your industry organisation was planning

The initial planning for the event includes an exhibition trade show of new rural industries, forums for primary producers to have their say on key issues, fashion show, gala dinner, and more.

savings for your industry, whilst also enabling

a national meeting, AGM, conference or workshop in early 2012, then scheduling that meeting in or around the time of the NRIA conference can hold potential cost your attendees to attend the NRIA sessions and be part of the bigger picture. For more information, write to

NRIA welcomes new CEO The board of NRIA wishes to welcome our new CEO – Ben White.

As part of the CEO

Ben comes from a family business environment involving thoroughbred horses, grains and sheep farming. After secondary schooling, in 1989 he joined the Royal Australian Navy and after 15 years and an intense operational career he attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

to do a presentation to the

In 2003 Ben moved into the private sector, re-engaging with the thoroughbred industry and investing into a seafood processing/restaurant business. In 2006 he joined the DPI Victoria Agribusiness Team, as Manager Market Development South East Asia, and in 2007 he moved into Regional Development Victoria as Manager, Food Group. In 2009 Ben established a new Singaporean backed agribusiness and food industry enterprise ‘YarraGum Agrifoods Pty Ltd’.

with. He had to show he

Ben is married with three children, living in Melbourne, and he is an enthusiastic sports fan of Rugby Union, AFL and Cricket.

selection process Ben had board of NRIA, showing his understanding of the organisation and the new rural industries we deal understood the mission of the organisation, and also detail his own vision for the future. The NRIA board was very impressed by Ben’s communication skills, dynamic understanding of rural business, and work done at all levels of industry. The NRIA board is confident that Ben is the right choice as CEO and that his enthusiasm for rural business will take us a long way. Welcome Ben.

Twitter forum – calling on new rural industries New Rural Industries Australia participates regularly in

AgChatOz – a forum on Twitter, held between 8pm and 10pm every Tuesday night.

AgChatOz was founded a year ago. It is a simple idea to engage the wider agribusiness community and to

raise the profile of agriculture in Australia. There are over 1200 primary producers, supply chain, industry representatives, government and media that are part of the weekly conversation each Tuesday night, and this number continues to grow.

Each week there is a theme, and a series of questions on that topic – from finance, to retail monopolies; from mental health to technology; from equipment to obtaining skilled workers from overseas. In coming weeks there are plans for a AgChatOz to take up the subject of new rural industries. You can be involved and have your say. For more information, email To participate, just search for # AgChatOz on Twitter, and take part in the conversation. Step into the world of social media

Spotted anything


NOTHING WILL PROTECT YOUR CROPS AND THE ENVIRONMENT MORE THAN A GOOD HARD LOOK It is important that you are aware of the risk. If you spot anything unusual on your crop or in the general environment, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. The call is free (except for mobiles) and early detection will help protect your farm, your industry and the environment. For more information visit:


1 18 0 0 0 8 4 8 8

Improving national biosecurity outcomes through partnerships

New RIRDC Board Directors announced The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has announced its new Board Directors. Mr Sam Archer, Dr Michael Guerin, Ms Alana Johnson and Dr Len Stephens are the four new Directors on the nine person RIRDC Board. The new Board Directors will take their positions immediately and each will serve three year terms. RIRDC Managing Director, Craig Burns said the four new Directors bring a diverse range of skills and experience to the RIRDC Board. “RIRDC plays an important role in the development and support of rural Australia and the new Board Directors bring an impressive and diverse set of skills and experience that will provide strong guidance and expert governance to the organisation,” Mr Burns said. Sam Archer manages a mixed farming enterprise based on livestock, cereal production and native pastures at Gundagai, NSW. Mr Archer was awarded an Australian Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2008, and travelled throughout the Americas, Europe and India researching private sector funded environmental stewardship schemes broadly based around carbon, water and biodiversity. Mr Archer holds a commerce degree and an Honours Degree majoring in Anthropology.


Dr Michael Guerin was the Chief Operating Officer at Elders Limited (2009 – 2010) and also served as its Managing Director of Rural Services (2008). Dr Guerin was the Managing Director of the Australia & New Zealand (ANZ) Banking Group’s Pacific Division (2005 – 2008) and also served as the Managing Director of ANZ’s Regional and Rural Banking arm. He also served as a Director of Rural Bank Limited (2009 – 2010).


Alana Johnson is a national and international rural consultant and a partner in a cattle breeding and agro-forestry enterprise in north east Victoria. Ms Johnson has a social science background and is currently a Doctoral candidate and sessional lecturer at Monash University. Ms Johnson is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ms Johnson is past president of the Foundation for Australian Agricultural Women and a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture. Ms Johnson was the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Victorian Winner and National runner-up in 2010.

Dr Len Stephens (AICD, Dip Agr Sci, BVSc, MSc, PhD) is currently the Managing Director of the Seafood CRC. Dr Stephens has also been a Company Director for Dairy Australia (2007 2010) and was a Principal at Global Innovation Options Management Consultancy (2007). Mr Stephens served as Chairman of Australian Wool Exchange’s Industry Standards Advisory Committee (2007), was Chief Executive Officer of Australian Wool Innovation (2003 - 2006) and was a General Manager at Meat & Livestock Australia (1996 - 2003). Prof. Daniela Stehlik remains the RIRDC Board Chair. The four new RIRDC Board Directors join three re-appointed Directors - Mr Alexander Campbell AM, Ms Roseanne Healy and Dr Merilyn Sleigh.

The latest on Truffles The 2011 Truffle season has just closed, with a record harvest of around 3500 kilograms, up from an estimated 1700 kilograms in 2010. Major production areas are the Manjimup area of south west WA, northern Tasmania, and the southern highlands area of NSW and ACT.  Over 80% of the crop is exported, and domestic sales are also growing well supported by strong media interest and a vibrant truffle festival scene.  The increasing crop is putting some downward pressure on prices, with grower prices in the range from $2000/kg to $850/kg. The incidence of truffle rot is a major issue, with 50% of the crop affected in some areas.  Truffle rot is widespread in all truffle growing areas, and results in damaged and unsaleable truffle.  Research into the causes of truffle rot, and potential management issues, is ongoing and supported by RIRDC. Most of Australia’s crop is produced in 10 to 12 truffieres, with another 30 or 40 producing smaller harvests.  While yields in producing truffieres are showing encouraging year on year increases, the large number of non producing sites is of concern, and is again the subject of reasearch programs supported by the Association and RIRDC. The Association has in 2011 released a grading standard for fresh black truffle, and is now working on a certfication process for innoculated trees.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

Exotic tropical fruit hits hard times

When Mr Noble bought his farm 11 years ago, he saw the potential for it to produce a lucrative crop. The farm came with 200 tropical fruit trees, mainly rambutan, and he wanted to expand. Tropical fruit production in Australia was increasing. However, as production increased domestic prices began to drop, so Mr Noble set up the Australian Tropical Marketing group and looked at export markets. There was soon 30% of tropical fruit in Queensland being exported to Japan – and in 2002-03, Australian rambutan exports to Japan peaked at 85 tonnes with an estimated value of $1.2 million. When cyclone Larry hit, about half of the producing tropical fruit trees were wiped out of the Queensland industry overnight, and it became difficult to sell farms, with potential buyers aware

it could all disappear. But Mr Noble persisted. He painstakingly replanted in 2006 and picked the first fruits of his labour in 2010. ‘’Then Yasi hit, we lost nearly everything, and we are now worse off than we were when we first bought the farm.’’ He said the production of fruit like lychees, mangosteen, rambutan and durian had now gone back to being the niche market it was two decades ago. While there will be tropical fruit grown in the Northern Territory available this season, much will be imported. The quality of that fruit was poor because the fruit was frozen and went through a sanitization process, Mr Noble said, and it would be particularly hard to get rambutan, which as yet was not imported at all. Farmers who have decided to stick it out like Mr Noble are now looking towards alternative growing methods that may prove more cyclone-resistant such as trellising, a method more commonly seen in the production of grapes. Adapting trellising for tropical fruit plants would give them a better chance of survival in a cyclone, however it would be costly and modifications needed to be made to make trellising suitable for tropical plants.

Research alliance At the 2010 New Rural Industries Australia conference, there was a new kid on the research block in the exhibitor’s hall. The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is a new institute at the University of Queensland (UQ) and is a partnership between UQ and the Queensland Government to enhance the applied research capabilities at UQ with discovery science for the government. QAAFI’s research programs cover animal, plant and food science. This partnership brings together expertise from breeding through to sensory evaluation of food products. Coupled with

this expertise is world’s best technology including genome screening, technologies to test product quality and state-of-theart sensory facilities. QAAFI is lead by Professor Robert Henry, a world leader in plant genomics, with special interests in native plants. They also have: Dr Heather Smyth who is a world expert in flavour chemistry; Dr Yasmina Sultanbawa, who is a leader in researching post-harvest quality including bioactive compounds related to storage and food quality; and Dr Glen Fox who is an expert in cereal grain science and processing quality.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

QAAFI is recognised as a national leader in areas of grain research including genetic improvement, crop protection, soil health, climate science and functional food. A number of new rural industries have already established varying research collaborations with QAAFI. There are also opportunities to build skills capacity by developing project for post-graduate projects. If you have a research project you have been wanting to get done, but lack resources to accomplish it – it may be worth contacting them.


With the battering that Queensland received from cycles Larry and Yasi, the tropical fruit production in the state has had some major set-backs. But those looking forward to Australian-grown tropical fruit coming into season this year will be disappointed. That industry has been set back about 20 years owing to the cyclones, Keith Noble, a farmer who grows rambutan, mangosteen and durian on his Tully farm in northern Queensland, said.


Women and New Rural Industries Queensland Rural Women’s Network

rural women

We all know the world is a small place, and in the new rural industries and women farmers sectors, I think it is even smaller! As President of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network (QRWN) I am excited by this opportunity to link passionate rural women with passionate producers across Australia: you share many of the same visions for your businesses, communities and families, and share the same energy that makes things happen.


On a personal level, I have a background in regional and farm tourism, branded beef production and marketing across regional Australia. In 2010 I had the privilege of working as part of a small team implementing some recommendations for NRIA through a group project with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, so know many NRIA members personally. QRWN looks forward to gathering and sharing women’s stories with you – women who are the glue that keeps their community together and who strengthen every rural, regional and remote

community in Australia, often with the fabulous ideas that become new industries. Our organisation strives to grow the potential of individual women through collaborative networks. We provide information, professional and personal development, and an inclusive, safe environment for regional women. Formed in 1993 to meet the needs of women in rural communities throughout the state, QRWN has since grown to be a progressive organisation running a series of programs in regional centres as well as being involved at a national and international level–our focus is on all rural women and their families, communities and enterprises. We are looking forward to playing our part in ‘Passion to Profit’ by collecting and sharing not just local, but national and even international stories of women playing a vital role in innovation within new regional and rural industries. Georgie SomersetPresident, QRWN

Qld Rural Women’s Network welcomes new board members The Queensland Rural Women’s Network (QRWN) has welcomed two new board members for the 2011 – 2012 financial year: Alison Mobbs from the Charleville district and Beverley Ryan from Brisbane. QRWN was formed in 1993 to meet the needs of women in rural communities throughout the state, and has since grown to a progressive organisation effective at regional, state-wide, national and international levels. Ms Mobbs, Director and Secretary of Mobbs Cattle Co Pty Ltd, is a primary producer and brings strong project management and community leadership skills to her role with QRWN. She is also currently

completing a Master of Business Administration majoring in Leadership. Ms Ryan, raised in the South Burnett, is a communications and career consultant in Brisbane, and brings strong online and print communications skills to her role with QRWN. Queensland Rural Women’s Network (QRWN) president Georgie Somerset stated, “We welcome these two talented and enthusiastic women who have much to offer women across rural, regional and remote Queensland. Their appointment increases the diversity and geographic spread of the QRWN board, and will positively enhance the impact of the organisation.”

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

Freshwater Fish and Squab Grower Dominique Tan – Biloela, Queensland Dominique and Richard Tan have long been interested in breeding freshwater native fish in the Biloela region in Queensland, 600 kilometres north of Brisbane and 130 kilometres from Gladstone. They have more recently extended to include squab breeding – domestic pigeons bred for eating – in their enterprise. Typical of many women in rural industries, Dominque’s initial tendency when asked about her role is to take the ‘I just support’ approach.

“Our first attempt at fish breeding in open ponds in the ‘80s resulted in a good season, then all of our fish stock were killed when an aerial sprayplane’s residue was dumped over the ponds. Water allocation for aquaculture was not a priority with the authorities at that time, so that business attempt was abandoned for some years until the plan for a complete recycle system was evolved. Starting small and gradually expanding to the present day, where large sheds hold up to 50 tanks of Sleepy Cod, Silver Perch and some Barramundi in various stages of growth, we are growers only, on-selling to others who supply the restaurant trade. Sleepy Cod are very popular with Asian restaurants. We also fill occasional orders for fingerlings for dam stocking. One worker is employed part-time to monitor and clean the tanks and a plumber is in regular attendance for repairs and maintenance. A scientific background is a definite advantage in this industry. Costs outweigh profit at this stage of the venture’s development. Our squab numbers have been slowly increased, the emphasis being, as always, on quality not quantity. We are fortunate to have the services of a reliable and knowledgeable contract worker who assists in monitoring feeding, growth rates, sexing, pairing and collection for kill days. Another worker is employed to carry out the actual feeding of the birds.

We also produce Chinese Silky birds, which are a popular item with Asian diners. There are approximately 30 growers in the Biloela area supplying the abbatoir, Aussie Squab, which employs five or six people. Demand for product is constant and the co-operative would like to attract more growers to the industry: we can offer realistic advice, earning projections and support. In January 2011 this property was inundated to a depth of one metre for three days by storm water runoff from Biloela town. Significant damage was done to the aquaculture pump house and some 1500 squab were lost. In my view passion alone does not inevitably lead to profit: planning and perseverance are the additional P’s needed to achieve that end.” To contact Dominique Tan for more information about growing opportunities in the squab industry, contact her at Australian Native Fish & Squab Production, P O Box 568 Bileola Qld 4715, phone (07) 4992 1633 or email This section has been supplied by the Queensland Rural Women’s Network. Please email editor@ with national rural and regional women’s issues and events to include in this segment.

rural women

Further enquiry reveals that Dominique does administration and data entry, liaises with their staff, is a shareholder in the business, and currently chairs the board meetings at the local growerowned abbatoir, Aussie Squab! Richard, now a retired local doctor, oversees breeding programs.


Jock Douglas Australian Desert Limes Fresh frozen limes in 3 sizes, desert lime purée, aioli, limes in syrup, jams, chutney, sauce and cordial. Grafted ‘Abundance’ desert lime trees. Ours is a family-based business which includes a cattle grazing property running 300 cattle with a trickle-irrigated desert lime plantation of 11,000 trees. It is a value-adding business which grows and markets the desert lime fruit and a range of desert lime conserves and also sells grafted desert lime trees. We have commercialized the native citrus glauca which grow naturally on this property west of Roma Queensland. We started wild harvesting in 1992 and in 1998 selected and propagated from best bearing trees. The fruit is value-added into a range of products and marketed directly and through retailers while the limes are sold frozen to chefs and manufacturers. A recent product development is desert lime purée which is attracting interest in the food industry. In a major breakthrough for the business the purée is the primary flavour ingredient for Kenilworth Country Foods’ desert lime cheesecake which will be available in 600 Woolworth outlets starting in October.

Q. What inspired you to get involved in a new rural industry?


First, the belief that the distinctive flavour of desert limes gave it good commercial potential.


devotee and repeat customers. We are attempting to place desert limes as a high value cuisine item to be widely used and renowned for its outstanding flavour. The coming desert lime cheesecake may well provide the basis needed. Perhaps the biggest drawback was the starting point: a 4th generation cattleman and his family with no horticultural experience to become native citrus growers, value-adders and marketers. But it is an amazing learning journey and immensely encouraging finding so many helpful people. And we respond similarly.

Q. What do you consider your successes? What do you attribute these to?

Our early success was securing a major export contract for desert lime conserves. This would never have happened without ‘discovery’ and assistance from Austrade. We almost weren’t ready for it. We moved from a registered kitchen production for Farmers’ Markets to contracted, professional production with tested products in high quality packaging/labeling and paperwork completed for UK/EU entry – all in 4 months.

Second, the personal and family enthusiasm about taking on a big challenge. The challenge in this case is to have a successful business based on desert limes and also as a basis for a new native food industry. Part of the attraction of value-adding our own fruit and of registering our own tree selection was that we could be in control of our pricing, unlike most agricultural enterprises.

Q. What have been the pitfalls you have overcome? How?

One major pitfall on the supply side was underestimating the time it would take to establish the trees–the risks from extended drought. We have not overcome that; the natural cycle has simply turned abundantly in our favour. A drawback or pitfall we have to overcome is that ‘desert limes’ are largely unknown among consumers or in the food industry. If known at all it was considered as Bush Tucker, a novelty or fad item but we have overcome that to an extent with Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

Q. What are some tips you could give others in new rural industries?

• Take on the challenge. Then plan well ahead. • Secure your supply base.

Create Your Future

• Decide that excellence is essential – in product quality, packaging, supply service.

To vision it, to scan it

• Know your story–discover your points of difference and market them.

To see a way, then plan it

• Develop agreeable relationships with customers, suppliers and support people.

To go beyond convention

• Extend your networks. • Continually expand your skills and knowledge. • Manage yourselves professionally and harmoniously as a business. Alongside is a poem Jock wrote which is relevant for new industries:

Q. What is your future vision for your business?

There is significant potential in the food industry for desert limes and our business will benefit from having a key part in that potential being realised.

To get commitment with intention To know barriers–and break them To empower people and take them To take them with you to it –and To have the guts to do it.

Jock Douglas

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


Jos and Wendy Webber Kahawa Estate Coffee Dry green coffee bean and roasted coffee Kahawa Estate coffee plantation is located in the Byron Bay hinterland on the far north coast of New South Wales. Situated on fertile, red volcanic soils and surrounded by sub-tropical rainforest, Kahawa Estate coffee plantation was established by our family in 2004 with the planting of 8000 trees. A further 3500 trees were planted in 2008. Our subtropical location provides an ideal environment in which Coffea arabica thrives, producing an awardwinning aromatic, well rounded coffee with low acidity and no bitterness. We use environmentally friendly farming practices and our coffee is pesticide free.

Q. What inspired you to get involved in a new rural industry?

While living and working in Canberra, we developed itchy feet and the need for a fresh and different challenge. The cold climate did not help either and our eyes turned north to new opportunities in warmer and greener pastures. After some research (RIRDC publications were very helpful), we zeroed in on coffee growing in the subtropics – the attraction for us was the locality, the abundant and reliable rainfall, an opportunity to indulge our interest in things horticultural and with a crop that did not require the use of pesticides. Coffee ticked all the boxes for us.

Q. What have been the pitfalls you have


overcome? How?


guidance of a retired coffee grower who became our mentor. Financial challenges The setting up process was more expensive than we had anticipated and it was very helpful to have a second off-farm income to help during the period of establishment. We soon realised that value-adding would provide us with a better income. Through the coffee association we learned more about the skills of roasting and cupping. We decided instead of simply selling our raw coffee, we would move to roasting and retailing our own coffee under our own brand as a single estate coffee. This has given us great personal satisfaction and an exciting new challenge to develop our skills in marketing.

Q. What do you consider your successes? What do you attribute these to?

The proof is in the pudding ... or in the coffee in this case!! We have been successful in gaining awards for our coffee at the Sydney Royal and the Royal Hobart Fine Food Shows in 2010 and 2011. Contributing factors have been the support we have received from family and friends, our willingness to ask questions and to listen and learn from those around us. Being part of a small but supportive and vibrant group through our local industry association has been critical to our success.

Finding suitable land for growing coffee. Our requirement was for frost-free cleared land with a gentle slope and a north facing aspect and with an irrigation license. With the help of a consultant with years of experience in the industry and a successful coffee grower to advise us, we changed our mind set and bought an old avocado/ macadamia orchard that had the attributes we were looking for. Cost of establishment of the plantation To economise we chose to clear the land with large efficient machinery and grew our own seedlings under the guidance of our consultants. Cost of acquiring machinery To cut costs we bought second hand equipment which we had renovated and reconfigured to suit our situation by excellent trades people under the Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

Q. What are 5 tips you could give others in new rural industries?

1. Know why it is that you are entering this industry–is it purely to make money, or is there an element of lifestyle that discounts some of the financial profitability. Frame your business in this context. 2. Engage a consultant that has a passion for the industry and absorb all they have to give. 3. Find a mentor who has had success in the industry and listen and learn from them. 4. Join the local industry association and though this you will gain access to a range of support systems and learning experiences. 5. Offer your property to participate in research trials if you can–new ideas and ways of doing things, and exposure of your business to the public are all potential benefits.

Q. What is your future vision for your business?

In a wider vision we look to be part of a thriving subtropical coffee industry that is renowned for the top quality and flavor of the coffee produced in this region. On a more personal level, we are looking to continue to expand our sales of roasted coffee through fine food retail outlets and the internet. In doing so, our challenge is not to over-commit ourselves so that we can maintain the integrity of our single estate label.


Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


Rob and Jen Egerton-Warburton Lucinda’s Everlastings Everlasting flowers and seed packets Lucinda’s Everlastings has been operating since 2004, beginning in a very basic form with handmade packets and products, and no display or paraphernalia for shops. Since then, we have rapidly gained momentum, developing efficient systems of harvesting, packing and cleaning the seed and presenting the product in shops, so that clientele want to promote them. We have reduced the costs of production, so that prices can remain the same since inception. The scope of our business will lie in the opportunities that we can create with new lines and colours of everlastings, and the marketing of our products.

Q: What inspired you to get involved in a new rural industry?

Life on any farm is tough when we have to play against the cards of nature. In 2004, in the midst of a seasonal drought, the idea of developing something ‘on the side’, that could tolerate drought conditions and provide addition income arose. It was when Jen was involved in the Landcare industry as a regional co-ordinator, that the idea came about, with the receiving of a kilo of everlasting seed to form the start.


Q: What have been the pitfalls you have


overcome? How?

Developing the business idea was hard work at first. We had to consider so many different components, which we as farmers, were not used to doing. To have a successful product, we soon found out that we had to gain experience in selling a product, marketing and developing business relationships. We also had to work out what the customer

wanted, and what they were willing to pay. To overcome this, was the menial task of face-toface visits to individual shops, find out what they wanted; to see if the product would sell, then follow where this took us.

Q: What do you consider your successes? What do you attribute these to?

Our successes have been to have good business relationships with people, and keeping our costs of production low, so that shops can sell at a reasonable price and keep customers and retail staff happy.

Q: What are 5 tips you could give others in new rural industries?

1. Be willing to spend some money – if the risk pays off, it will bring so many more opportunities 2. Think of an area that interests you – develop from there – look in shops, or speak to your customers and people in the industry for ideas 3. Keep at it – persevere – try a different angle if the first one doesn’t work 4. Employ other people, while you market – labour is cheap compared to the long term gain 5. Watch your overheads – be sure what you spend returns income in that year.

Q: What is your future vision for your business?

Our future vision is to develop another line of wildflowers – perhaps one for our other daughter ‘Zara’! We would also like to refresh our paraphernalia to create new methods at the point of sales. The industry of fresh and dried flowers could also be worth the venture.

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Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


Jason Masters Wrapped Creations

Indigenous gift and art Wrapped Creations was formed by David Yakas and Jason Masters after a very successful career in the event management industry. David has worked with clients such as IBM, Macquarie Bank and Royal Agricultural Society of WA. Jason has extensive experience in working with indigenous and regional community groups. David and Jason saw an opportunity to create an organisation focused on delivering superior service and aiming to exceed client expectation for not only the Perth market but also regional Western Australia. They have surrounded themselves with experts in the industry and the team comprises of industry leaders with over 15 years experience.

available. Being based in Karratha we are able to work closely with major Mining and Resources companies.

Q: What inspired you to get involved in a new

Q: What are 5 tips you could give others in new

After receiving numerous gift hampers I really wanted to create a gift hamper service that showcased produce and products from the North West of WA. I wanted to also provide an avenue for small businesses and in particular indigenous businesses to get their products out in the market and in front of consumers who may not generally have access to them.

1. Have a clear understanding of what your realistic goals are for the first 12 months of your business.

rural industry?

Q: What have been the pitfalls you have overcome? How?


Tracking down the unique producers in the North West has certainly been a small hurdle which we have had to overcome. Most small producers don’t have a website or regular advertising in place so a lot of leg work went into creating our hampers.


Q: What do you consider your successes? What do you attribute these to?

Being indigenous and raised in the North West I have a great understanding of what products are

rural industries?

2. Prepare a business and marketing plan. Your local small business centre is a great resource for information and support. 3. Research your market and understand what your competitors are offering and what makes your offering unique. 4. Make your client’s satisfaction the number one priority in all interactions. 5. Have fun and enjoy what you do. Your passion will come in your products.

Q: What is your future vision for your business?

Our hampers are currently purchased by WA Corporate clients. Our plans are to take our business Australia wide within the next 12 months.

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Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

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Make your farm or rural property safer for children Child Safety on Rural Properties Rural properties can be wonderful places for children, where independence and responsibility is fostered, where family relationships are strengthened, and where children are exposed to unique experiences. However farms and rural properties are both a home and a workplace, and children may be placed at great risk when playing or helping out. Every year, around 20-30 children die on Australian farms. Many more are injured seriously enough in farm related incidents to require hospitalisation. The greatest risk for toddlers (0-4 yrs) is drowning – most commonly in dams – but rivers, pools, troughs and dips are also drowning hazards. For older children (5-14 yrs), working farm machinery, farm vehicles, motorcycles and horses are the biggest risks. Complete the checklist to determine how well you are managing these child safety risks on your farm.

A Safe Place to Play

farm tips

þþ Is there a safe play area (eg. a fenced houseyard) for small children which is securely separated from farm machinery, vehicles, work activities and other hazards?


þþ Does the safe play area have shade and interesting things for children to do? þþ Are there ‘out-of-bounds’ rules, for children who are not with a supervising adult, which are regularly reinforced? þþ Do ‘out-of-bounds’ areas include all hazardous places (eg. water storages, machinery and vehicles, silos, workshops and areas where stock are yarded)?

Water þþ Are swimming pools, effluent ponds, channels or dams near the house securely fenced? þþ Are tanks, wells and troughs near the house fitted with lids/mesh and are unused dips and ditches filled in? þþ Have those who look after children been alerted to ‘keep watch’ when children are around or could wander off into water?

Farm Motorcycles þþ Are children appropriately trained and supervised when learning to ride two-wheeled motorcycles? þþ Do all riders always wear a correctly fitted motorcycle helmet, long pants, and sturdy footwear when riding farm motorbikes? þþ Does the farm adopt manufacturers’ recommendations and: þþ Prevent children under 16 from riding quadrunners (ATVs)? þþ Prevent passengers riding on quadrunners (ATVs)?

Horses þþ Are children only allowed to ride horses suited to their age and riding ability? þþ Are children appropriately instructed and supervised on your farm when learning to ride horses? þþ Do children on the farm always wear well fitting riding helmets and smooth-soled riding boots when riding horses?

Tractors and Machinery þþ Do you prevent children from riding as passengers on tractors and mobile plant? þþ Are children encouraged to keep away from tractors and machinery on your farm or rural property? þþ ‘Tractors, machinery and children do not mix!’

Farm Vehicles þþ Do children always use seatbelts and proper restraints and never ride in the back of utilities? þþ Are drivers careful when moving vehicles near the house in case children are present? þþ Are keys kept out of reach of children when vehicles are not in use?

Other hazards Have other hazards (eg. firearms, chemicals, electrical, noise, silos) that children could access on your farm or rural property, been identified and addressed? Source: Farmsafe Australia

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

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Don’t stare at the horizon just to trip on the road

By Peter Fritz




here are plenty of books out there that will tell you that in order to create a successful business you need to have a vision – a plan. Once you’ve got that, you need to keep marching resolutely towards the horizon to achieve your vision. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Take the example of Integrated Wireless. This is a communications sales company that is part of the TCG Group, my company, and it’s currently a very profitable venture. But this wasn’t always the case. When we first came across the company we were very concerned that we would not be able to turn it into a profitable business – after all, the existing owners had been losing money on the venture for many years.

Sure, it helps to have a long-term goal – as long as you’re prepared to change it constantly as circumstances change and opportunities arise, and as long as you’re prepared to keep focused on the task at hand rather than staring at the horizon.

It operated initially as a sale office and Australian outpost for a much larger international company. The division had not made any money for five years, despite a healthy turnover and demand for its products. Subsidiaries are like small businesses that start out with a lot of case: they are always in danger of failing because they start out in an unrealistic mindset of being able to spend money before they make it. Integrated Wireless in Australia had fallen headlong into this trap.

If you stare at the horizon as you progress, you are quite likely to trip on the way. It is possible to start a business with no capital or debt, as long as you’re willing to look at the world from a slightly different angle (preferably not off into the distance), and re-assess regularly. Look at your business as a collection of paying customers, and seek the active participation of others, rather than frittering away any money you already have on establishing the business of your ‘vision’. Oddly enough the same thing I’ve been hammering home when it comes to starting a business can also be applied to expanding a business, either organically through increased sales, or by finding a complementary company and taking it over. It doesn’t have to take money to get off the ground. Possibly the best way to acquire something for no money is to find something that is not worth much to its current owners. If you look around and keep your business contacts up to date, you’ll discover that there are plenty of these opportunities lying around. Many businesses expand by committing the mistake of buying into a company when it’s already for sale, or buying into a sector when it’s already booming. This is a great way to make the seller rich, and leave yourself heavily in debt. The most promising businesses are never overtly for sale, whether or not they are making the owners any money.

Nonetheless, the owners were not looking to sell initially. While they weren’t happy with the company’s operations, they were resigned to the idea that it would simply continue to operate as an outpost that made a loss. What made Integrated Wireless an interesting option for us at TCG Group was that we could see how, with a few modifications to the way the company operated, it could become a very profitable venture, sell more product, and make more money for the owners, whoever they may be. But it had to make the transition from being the small sales arm of a larger company to being a separate business that operated profitably in its own right. These initial negotiations took about a year to conduct, and it was important to secure the support not only of the business’s owners, but to also find an internal sponsor for the sale. We needed someone in senior management to support the transition; otherwise we risked losing the staff. It turned out that the challenge for the larger company was that, while they had a lot of faith in the Australian market, they were not sure how to make the sales division operate profitably, and it was groaning under the weight of onerous

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

and time-consuming reporting practices. All of the reporting practices were necessary for the larger company to keep track of its outpost, but they also detracted from the profitability of the smaller entity. Sometimes being aligned with a bugger company works in your favour, but in this case it was working again the company’s success. Eventually the original owners agreed to part with the company for the price of $1, having been convinced that indeed it could be worth more to them if it were separated from the parent company. The price was remarkable, but their motivation was entirely understandable. For years they had been pouring money into a venture that seemed incapable of turning a profit. It was costing them money to run, and would have cost them still more money to close down as they would have had to cancel contracts and pay out staff. It was sold to us with negative cash flow and significant overheads, and the hope was that by turning it around we would actually make the parent company money by selling more of their product. Taking the company from loss to profitability was not a straight forward process, but we were equal to the task. The very first thing we had to do was to ensure it began making money, and quickly. We began by going over the company’s operations, determining who the best sales and support staff were, cutting costs and increasing incentives to sell. Where possible, we deferred payments to suppliers, renegotiated the terms of many of the supply arrangements, and moved into less expensive premises. Most importantly, we stripped away much of the administrative paperwork, so that the good salespeople could go out and sell, and the good technicians could go out and repair stuff without worrying about having to come back to the office to fill out forms. There are benefits and challenges associated with all businesses, no matter what the size. It’s important to always work within your constraints rather than wishing for something you don’t have. Small businesses need to be agile, and in removing the red tape, Integrated Wireless immediately benefited from increased agility. Salespeople were able to get out and sell, the administrative staff was able to spend their time supporting the sales staff, and within six months the company made its first midyear profit in five long years. Profitability was the first major hurdle we needed to overcome. The next step for us was to begin to take a closer look at what the company had internally, and what kinds of options existed for expansion. Within the company we discovered

a talented technical support team. We spun it off into a separate company, providing its technical staff with more training and expanding its customer base into new areas. We appointed leaders within the company who would manage effectively and passionately, and let them get to work. Within three years, the sales had doubled. It was at this stage that the company could get down to creating some serious value and begin to develop its own intellectual property. The more highly trained team began working on software, which could ultimately be sold in the local market and also back into the company’s international division. The added revenues gave the company the opportunity to buy into premises and expand its branch office network. Within six years, the company consisted of several divisions, including sales, technical support, research and development and facilities management. It owned two buildings, and, remarkably had not lost any staff across its network. But it would have been impossible to predict this kind of success when we first purchased it. The only way it managed to get this far was by the leaders involved placing one foot in front of the other and moving slowly forward, making sure each step was solid before advancing further. Profitability had to come before investment, investment before expansion, expansion before new facilities and so on in a chain that seems clear and simple in retrospect, but has to be taken slowly, deliberately, and in a very specific order. There’s not a business plan, mission statement or company vision in existence that deals with all possible scenarios, which is why it’s so important to keep your eyes resolutely on the road ahead. The horizon might be tempting, but you’ll never actually make it if you trip up on the way.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


Finding your feet online:

How to make the World Wide Web work for you




By Youna Angevin-Castro

eing in business means getting your name out there, and convincing customers that you have something they need. And over the last ten years, that has meant more than just a business card and an advertisement in the Yellow Pages. Many businesses are now reliant on the Internet as part of their business strategy – from web-based marketing to online sales – to grab the attention of that ever-elusive customer.

attract their attention, is far more important to know than how to code your own website.

So how can rural businesses gain from the internet revolution?

Although field days and farming expos can provide valuable opportunities for emerging industries to engage with potential customers, these events are usually few and far between, and require a financial outlay which may not be recovered.

Rock around the clock One of the immediate advantages of an online presence is that promoting your business is not confined to usual business hours of 9-to-5. For many rural producers, the eight-hour work day far from reality, so the knowledge that your website can be working for you when you’re otherwise occupied can be reassuring. The initial step into the World Wide Web can be a daunting one. Terms such as ‘Google’, ‘SEO’, ‘SEM’ and ‘CMS’ can strike fear into those who spend little time at a computer in their day-to-day activities. However, getting your business online need not be a traumatic, or expensive, venture. Many web developers are now offering out-ofthe box products targeted at business owners who know enough about the web to create their own professional-looking website. Open source publishing systems, such as Wordpress and Joomla, have revolutionised the way people approach web development, making it easier for businesses to control their website content without the need for lengthy or expensive training programs. Of course, for businesses looking for a more tailored marketing solution, there are plenty of professionals who can develop a customised website that ticks all the boxes in terms of branding, functionality and marketing reach. And for the agricultural producer, understanding who your website should be targeting, and how to best

Bridging the gap For many farmers, overcoming the tyranny of distance is a major hurdle in establishing a link with metropolitan consumers. With most agricultural enterprises located on the fringes of major cities or in regional towns, many producers struggle make a meaningful connection with their customers.

Enter social media Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has gathered more than 750 million active users to its social networking site, and according to corporate statistics, an average of 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook every day. Likewise, Twitter has rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with over 200 million registered users generating over 200 million tweets each day. For small businesses, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide a constant link with the outside world from the just about anywhere. For those prepared to invest the time, social networking provides a two-way connection–not only can you promote your products, but you can just as easily receive real-time feedback from consumers. It also provides the opportunity to catch a glimpse of early trends, and to tailor your business to tap into emerging markets. From a business networking perspective, being connected to like-minded businesses can be a highly valuable resource. Businesses linked through social networking sites often demonstrate an unusually high level of goodwill, with crosspromotional initiatives often richly rewarded. In this case, ‘sharing the love’ with your competition can actually be good for business.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, refers to the buying and selling of products and services over the internet. In February 2011, online buyer’s guide site published The Getprice Shopping Report, investigating how Australian consumers research and buy online. According to the report, online shopping in Australia peaked in 2009 during the global financial, as consumers went online to find savings. Today, it is estimated that over eight million Australians use the internet to source research and purchase products. For small scale rural businesses looking to sell their products directly, e-commerce provides some obvious advantages. An online store can be quick and easy to set up, and requires relatively little start-up capital to get going. Integrated electronic payment systems such as PayPal also make it easy to accept orders over the internet, removing the need for complicated order processing. According to PayPal Australia’s Managing Director Frerk-Malte Feller, operating online is no longer an option for Australian businesses, but an absolute necessity to gain the momentum they need to stay competitive in today’s changing consumer landscape. “Over 8 million Australian consumers now use the internet to make purchases and this, coupled with

global consumers, makes the online market place a very exciting space to operate in,” Mr Feller said. In June of this year, PayPal Australia launched ‘Driving Business Online’, an initiative aimed at giving rural and regional small businesses the knowledge and tools to achieve success online. “Driving Business Online was launched to enable Australia’s small to medium businesses (SMBs) to realise the major benefits of expanding their businesses online, including reducing overhead costs, being open for business 24/7, improving communication channels with customers, and increasing incremental sales.” Part of the initiative includes a travelling roadshow through regional New South Wales, where business owners can attend seminars or one-on-one consultations to help them plan for success online. “As we travel across NSW, our aim is to help educate rural and regional small businesses on how to take advantage of these opportunities, whilst simultaneously building strong relationships with key industry players whose decisions can impact the success of the SMB sector.” For more information, visit Youna Angevin-Castro is a regular contributor to Passion to Profit. She is the owner of Castro Communications, a consultancy providing web and print-based marketing and communicationsº solutions to the agricultural sector.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


To e-commerce, or not?


Adopting the web For any new enterprise or new industry, establishing a web presence is a key focus. For most, the process of establishing a presence online is a gradual one, gradually becoming more sophisticated as the organisation or industry develops. For others is it a fast track. Regardless, the journey is often not an easy one, from the first one page online business card – to enterprise level continuous online business change.




Some organisations tend to be focused solely on their own internal web activities or don’t have the opportunity to learn from those who have trodden the same paths. But in life, inevitably others have been there/done that, made the mistakes and had the successes. In this article we hope to describe the web adoption journey, so you can benefit from lessons learned!





Monitoring & Tracking Systems & Processes

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

Why is this useful? Others have trodden these paths before... So what? There are many ways you can use or benefit from other’s experiences; here are a just few: You get to see the big picture and the future in advance, giving you insights into the likely next steps and possibly even when you can (optimally) take them. You can prepare and plan ahead of time, including understanding likely spend and budgets. This focus on strong planning will also ensure better outcomes.






You can reduce missteps; by seeing in general terms where success lies you can avoid mistakes. You can use the ‘motivations’ descriptions to promote the case for change within your organisation and better understand future benefits If you are at the helm of a larger organisation and have not been through these steps they may provide insight into the history or origins of your current setup. There are notable patterns in web adoption by smaller businesses as they grow, learn and see the potential the internet presents to their businesses. At a high level these steps are as follows:

At this initial stage the only genuine purpose the internet serves is to allow prospective customers to find details of the organisation. A small amount of supporting information is provided, but the organisation has limited marketing material to use as a source. The website may act as the driver for the production of marketing materials. Often this first foray is a DIY or friends and family affair; cost is measured in time and effort not dollars.

After a few updates to the DIY site, and some discrete feedback from clients, embarrassment and improved cash flow prompt the owners to call in professionals. Some marketing assets now exist as well as a relationship with designers, so often this is who delivers the first credible online presence. Primary improvements are therefore in the area of design/look and feel. We now have a very presentable online brochure. Costs are now real and for a quality job paying $10k or more is likely. Design-oriented online brochures are a good step, but often they neglect aspects that are uniquely web. Examples include search engines, Information Architecture planning, audience diversity, interactivity, usability, conversions and integration with wider online marketing. For this reason web experts are now essential. This second generation upgrade often coincides with brand and positioning changes, so the web presence may be starting from a ‘clean slate’. At this stage the site and implementation are supported by a web platform of some kind, including content management and often much more. Project fees are harder to estimate but are likely to exceed $20k. At this stage, existing online activities are beginning to pay dividends, often in the form of incoming leads, sometimes by reducing operational costs. The next major re-alignment is driven by an increase in knowledge and the first genuine online strategies. i.e. we achieved X in the past (more by luck than judgement), but now we know we want to achieve A, B and C, what’s more we think we know how and we definitely know how to measure success. These projects may include operational cost savings such as intranets, or automation of business processes. They also often include ‘reaching into’ the web, perhaps via paid ads or social media activities. Costs vary significantly, resources may be internal or external, and the project is likely to run over months with ongoing activities. Expect to pay upward of $50k for these kinds of engagements. This is the stage at which the usefulness of our model diminishes. At this point organisations are diverse and their objectives likewise. The online activities are likely to be driven by key stakeholders (i.e. are relatively unique), however traits include: • • • • •

Resources are often a combination of an in-house team and external consultants Online activities are more continuous in nature, significant upgrades maybe triggered by platform implementations or management / brand positioning changes Use of the internet is likely to be integrated from both technology and marketing standpoints Spend is continuous, and results are measured monthly as part of management reporting An overview of each step and its attributes is provided below. Please note that this table appears to imply greater consistency and rigidity than is the case in the real world. © LCubed

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011





First step:

People asking where the site is to find out more

Likely cost

Level of impact

Credibility – need to Knowledge show people that they and time are a serious entity

< 5,000

New level of credibility. Static pages Greatest single step forward?

First credible presence: Embarrassment Online brochure

Current site now perceived a credibility issue for customers and clients

Time and cost

< 15,000

Principals and sales Static pages teams refer clients and prospects to the web as sales tool

Second generation: Getting up to speed

Poor comparison to competition, awareness of lack of success

Have objectives to meet using web. Commonly lead generation

Fear of complexity and < 25,000 falling at hurdle

Begin to measure site against objectives – measure = achieve

Includes comprehensive online platform

Objective driven and success measured

Clear understanding of Key individuals have what can and should direct experience be achieved online of benefit of a working website

Management/ exec buy in

ROI and asset value

Comprehensive platforms and integration

Evolutionary change

Themes: Time/ fashion updates, business objective updates, architecture changes, web technology driven, internal stakeholder changes.

Online business card


> 50,000

Technology & Service

© LCubed

Points to note

Accelerating is tricky

Be aware of the following when looking at the web adoption pattern for your own business or industry association:

If you believe that your organisation is two or more steps beneath where it should be for its size or maturity, be aware that jumping steps is trickier than it may appear. Generally this is not because of the technical aspect of a project, but more the organisational ‘tacit’ knowledge and operational structures that need to adapt, along with the associated organisational buy in necessary to facilitate change.

The internet itself rapidly changes and evolves (including delivery approaches and fee structures); i.e. there is a lag between the model and reality. The above can only describe the earlier years of web adoption; once maturity is reached, change is related more to the organisation, individuals and web – and there are fewer patterns. The steps are generic–they do not represent a path for a specific organisation so can only be a used as an aid to strategy setting

So where from here? As mentioned previously, the table provided builds a more rigid picture than is in fact the case, which is illustrated by the absence of any timelines or specifics about sponsors and stakeholders. With this in mind, the steps must be considered in the context of your organisation, its needs and objectives. For example, if your industry association is relatively new as a membership organisation, then your steps along this path will be significantly accelerated. You may wish to consider involving a web consultancy with a company that has experienced each of the steps directly and can assist in establishing their relevance and provide supporting, specific advice.


To compound this point, later steps are more significant and tricky to take. As web usage permeates the organisation the number of stakeholders grows, and both perceived and actual risk levels increase. Both of these factors combine to result in larger price jumps, as the process is more meticulous and involves politics and iteration. Finally it should be remembered that times change and the web changes faster! This impacts both in terms of technologies available and our expectations and usage of the internet. This advancement is changing our future web adoption patterns and this model is based on historical observation. This model must evolve along with general maturity in organisations and knowledge of individuals on project teams. In fact, only when the observed trends stop changing can we say that the internet and the surrounding market place has itself reached maturity, which is surely quite some way off! The article has been provided by LCubed – a company that specialises in online marketing and communication.

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

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Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011





The Australian subtropical coffee industry



offee originated as an understory plant in the highland tropical rainforests of Ethiopia. In Australia, coffee growing began in 1880 but was defunct by 1926 due to Australia’s high labour costs. With the advent of mechanised harvesting in the 1980’s the industry was rekindled and coffee is now grown in two major regions: • the subtropics, with most of the plantations in the Northern Rivers area of NSW. • the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland centred around Mareeba. In 2006-07 there was around 590 ha of coffee planted in Australia, producing 973 tonnes of dry green bean. Almost all coffee grown in Australia is Coffea arabica (arabica coffee). Australian coffee commands a premium price of around $10/kg for dry green bean compared with the average imported price of $3-4/kg. It is estimated that 97% of coffee consumed in Australia is from imported beans. Coffee is largely self-pollinated and propagated from seed. Growers propagate their own seedlings or obtain them from specialist wholesale nurseries. Seedlings are ready for field-planting in 8-12 months. Trees are planted in hedge-rows for ease of machine harvesting, weed control, irrigation and fertilising. Trees are generally spaced 80-100 cm apart and the rows 3.5-4 m apart. This gives plant densities in the order of 3000 plants/ha. The first small crop can be expected three years after seedlings are planted in the field with the first commercial crop at four years.

Australian subtropical coffee Australia’s ‘cool climate’ subtropical coffee is grown in an area stretching from Coffs Harbour in NSW in the south to Noosa in SE Queensland in the north. It is estimated that there are approximately 35 growers on 300 ha with potential production of 600 tonnes of dry green bean per annum from 850,000 trees. The cultivars grown in Australia prefer a relatively mild, frost-free, subtropical climate. Temperatures below 7°C and above 33°C slow growth and reduce production. Good rainfall and well-drained aerated soils are required for optimum production. The fertile volcanic soils and reliable rainfall of the

adherent dry skin and parchment are removed in a ‘hulling’ machine, yielding dry ‘green bean’.

Northern Rivers make this an ideal area in which to grow coffee. Relatively flat ground is required for machine harvesting. One of the limitations to expansion of the industry is the availability of suitable land on which to grow coffee. Australia is fortunate to be one of the few regions in the world to be free of the two most serious and widespread coffee diseases: coffee berry disease and coffee rust. As a result noxious pesticides are not used on Australian Subtropical coffee enabling subtropical coffee to be produced using natural production systems and to meet community expectations for a clean sustainable environment. Coffee plantations are compatible with urban development. The mild subtropical climate allows an extended maturation and ripening of the fruit which gives this coffee a distinctive character increasingly recognised for its: • complex flavour profile; • medium to low acidity; • natural sweetness. Most coffee in this region is mechanically harvested in October/November. The self-propelled harvester consists of a frame that straddles the row. Attached to the frame are two vertical shaker shafts that have fibre-glass fingers that vibrate as the harvester moves along the row. This shakes the branches and the ripe cherries fall on a conveyor belt which moves the cherries into a bin for further processing. Two methods are used for processing – wet and dry processing. In wet processing, the flesh is mechanically removed in a ‘pulping’ machine, yielding ‘parchment’. This is dried to 10-12% moisture and can be stored in stable conditions without loss of quality for years. Prior to roasting, the parchment is mechanically removed in a ‘hulling’ machine, yielding dry green bean. Dry processing is usually applied to the over-ripe cherries (‘naturals’) that are not suitable for wet processing. They are dried to 10-12% moisture content and stored as such. Prior to roasting. the

A Strategic Plan for the Australian Subtropical Coffee Industry was developed in 2009/10 through industry consultation involving the entire supply chain and related educational and tourism organisations. Funding support was provided by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Subtropical Coffee Association. The vision for the Australian Subtropical Coffee Industry is for the profitable and environmentally sustainable production of coffee that is recognised worldwide for its quality, purity and distinctive flavour.” To achieve this vision the industry’s strategic objectives are to: 1. Establish an effective industry organisation that will implement the industry strategic plan. 2. Create a united industry and focus it on profitability and competitiveness to increase production and efficiency for the entire supply chain. 3. Drive innovation and research to underpin the product, industry development and profitability. 4. Utilise the natural attributes of the region to drive ethical and environmentally sustainable production of pest and disease-free coffee. 5. Produce high quality and distinctive tasting coffee that engenders consumer confidence in the consistency, quality and integrity of Australian Subtropical Coffee. 6. Establish and promote a regional, national and international identity for Australian Subtropical Coffee. 7. Respond to and develop consumer expectations and demand and seek out market opportunities accordingly ASTCA is now in the process of establishing priorities and developing strategies to implement the strategic plan. For further information contact Jos Webber, the President of ASTCA at or

Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011


The local representative body is the Australian Subtropical Coffee Association (ASTCA). The former NSW Coffee Growers’ Association was restructured as ASTCA in 2008 and brings together growers, harvesting contractors, roasters, wholesalers and anyone else interested in the production and or advancement of the subtropical coffee industry.


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Passion to Profit – the magazine of New Rural Industries Australia Issue 6 – 2011

Passion to Profit  

The magazine of New Rural Industries Australia