COVID may have stopped Australia's regional producers attending international trade fairs and networking events, but a new series of videos is keeping agribusinesses in the Capital Region and Southern NSW front of mind with potential buyers.
People, produce and provenance are the focus of 13 films created by the not-for-profit Agribusiness Regional Development Association (ARDA), which received funding for the project through the Australian government's Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) grant program to help small to medium-sized producers access new markets.
ARDA helps time-poor agribusinesses navigate free-trade agreements and the digital economy, meet potential buyers and access new funding streams.
ARDA initially planned to host regional producers on trade missions to South East Asia to forge new business connections, and to bring potential international buyers to NSW and ACT farms, fisheries and vineyards, but the pandemic put paid to that.
Secretary Daryl Young said like most other organisations, ARDA had to rethink its plans due to border closures.
"We needed to tell the authentic stories of our regional producers in a way that would be as effective as those face-to-face meetings, and we think we've more than succeeded with these videos," Mr Young said.
"Not only do they feature interviews with the people who put the food on our plates and the drinks in our glasses, but the stunning footage, including aerials of the unique landscapes, waterways, towns and villages of the Capital Region and Southern NSW, demonstrates exactly why this part of Australia is so special."
The video series features behind-the-scenes vision and interviews with oyster and dairy farmers, truffle growers, winemakers, cherry and sheep farmers and more.
Merimbula Gourmet Oysters Pip Boyton, whose family-run oyster farm on the shores of tranquil Merimbula Lake on the NSW far south coast is one of the businesses profiled, said she was thrilled to be involved in the project.
"Regional producers have been through some tough times and the opportunity to let people know that we're still going strong, and have a really unique offering, is incredibly valuable," Ms Boyton said.
"Not many of us have the time, capacity or budget to travel and meet potential buyers even without COVID, so having these videos tell our story for us to a wider audience is fantastic."
Mr Young said the videos would be shown to prospective domestic and international buyers who highly value Australian produce, as well as tourism operators, industry groups and at business and trade forums. In particular, ARDA was looking to share the videos with Canberra-based embassies and high commissions representing more than 80 nations
"Doing the groundwork now to let these countries know via their diplomatic corps of the great things we have to offer means local agri-businesses can reap the rewards when people are travelling again," he said.
"As well as opening up new sales markets, we hope to help put this region on the map as one of Australia's most diverse and exciting food and wine tourism destinations."
Under ARDA's Capital Region Export Alliance project, local agribusinesses are being invited to complete a survey that will identify impediments to trade and potential solutions - with the aim of building sustainable, long-term opportunities for farmers, fishers and growers in the region. The results will be presented to the Australian Government.