A Westerly Change
How Western Australia is becoming the new home of agri-innovation
However, a new development in south-west WA is putting the state on the map for another reason: as a global leader in agribusiness innovation. Located just 70km south of Perth, Peel Business Park in Nambeelup is the first major project of Transform Peel, a $49 million initiative created to drive economic growth and innovation in the Peel region, one of the state’s fastest growing areas.
Ready for global expansion
Part of the strength of the Peel region as an agribusiness hub is its location in the south-western corner of WA. Far from isolated, nearby Perth is Australia’s gateway to Asia, sharing a time zone with 60 per cent of the world’s inhabitants, including cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. The Peel region is serviced by the state’s road networks as well as major ports and airports, with regular direct flights to key trading centres, including London.
WA has been taking massive strides towards strengthening its relationship with Asian nations since the state established the role of Minister for Asian Engagement in 2017. Peter Tinley, who is newly appointed to the position, says he is focusing his efforts on making WA even more internationally competitive and diversifying the state’s economy.
The Asian Engagement Strategy is building on WA’s close geographic, economic and cultural links to South-East Asia as it looks to identify and create opportunities for local businesses in the region across numerous industries. The state is making itself more accessible for tourism and business by increasing direct flights to Perth as well as upskilling local tourism operators with training programs designed to provide cultural insights on engaging with Chinese visitors, in particular.
"WA is ideally placed to capture greater market share from neighbouring Asian countries,” says Tinley. “Establishing and maintaining close partnerships with Asian business networks and communities will help us achieve this.”
The agri-food sector in WA has benefited from free trade agreements with key trading partners and regional agreements between ASEAN nations, which help unlock the growing opportunities present in the Asian market and increase the state’s competitiveness through making it a more liberal and attractive place to do business.
Innovation & Collaboration
The Peel Business Park in Nambeelup is a leading example of the government’s commitment to drive the state’s economic growth. As the flagship project of LandCorp’s Industrial Lands Authority (ILA), the business park presents a strategic opportunity for ag-product value-add processing and exports. It is hoped that proximity to primary producers and the co-location of manufacturing infrastructure and complementary industry and research facilities in the park will spark collaboration between businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship and investment.
Acting as an incubator for new and emerging industries across a broad range of sectors, the park’s plans include a campus-style technology precinct to host research led by global universities and institutions. To spur activation of the park, the Shire of Murray is offering incentives in the form of rate holidays, and has waived local government planning and building fees to the first five businesses that buy and construct in the park. “We believe that the Peel Business Park will be attractive to forward-looking businesses, and these sorts of incentives will stimulate the overall agri-innovation precinct,” shire president David Bolt says.
Paula Pownall is the founder of Grubs Up Australia, WA’s first edible insect farm based in West Coolup, in the Peel region. She says the business park will provide the agribusiness sector with an opportunity to benefit from new partnerships, research and development, as well as provide access to export markets, manufacturing and investment. “It’s really exciting to have it on our doorstep”, she says.
The state government is further demonstrating its support for the agricultural sector through a range of partnerships and initiatives designed to share best practices and explore how technology will continue to shape the industry’s future. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is a sponsor of AgriStart’s Harvest Accelerator 2.0, an innovative program for WA-based start-ups and SMEs in the agritech sector seeking to scale their business, attract investment and explore new export markets.
“The Peel Business Park in Nambeelup, in the heart of the Peel region, aims to become a centre of excellence for agri-innovation and ancillary industries,” says LandCorp chief executive Frank Marra. “The knowledge that will be fostered here will not only benefit Western Australia but have a positive impact on the agricultural industry nationally and internationally.”
The Sustainable Way
A significant growth sector in WA, agriculture is the state’s second major export industry. The Peel Business Park is taking advantage of the region’s bountiful resources and rigorous biosecurity safeguards to meet increasing global demand for produce, particularly in Asia.
Increased interest in the quality and provenance of produce among Asia’s burgeoning affluent middle class is creating unprecedented opportunities for WA operators to capitalise on the state’s reputation as a reliable supplier of food that is both safe and high quality. As incomes continue to rise in the region, demand will grow for high-value agricultural products that need to be sourced via imports.
Peel Business Park will service the surrounding Peel Food Zone, an area earmarked for year-round food production that will cater to the growing international demand for premium produce.
The Food Zone will focus on farming practices such as hydroponics and aquaponics that are not dependent on climate and reduce nutrient run-off to sensitive estuaries and water bodies, aligning with WA’s mission to embed ecologically sustainable design principles into all of its planning policies. The project’s key partners are also investigating the opportunity for a Managed Aquifer Recharge proposal to offer water security for Peel enterprises.
Sustainability and innovation are a strong focus within the development of the business park, with a one-megawatt renewable energy industrial microgrid – one of the largest of its kind in the country – set to provide on-site businesses with clean energy.
“We are starting with solar and battery, but with the design we can further investigate other renewable generation sources,” says Paddi Creevey, chair of Peel Development Commission.
Among businesses in the Food Zone, Creevey says, “we expect to see the processing and recycling of waste to add much-needed carbon to the soil and other valuable by-products.”
The new home for agri-innovation and industry in Western Australia.
Peel Business Park, Nambeelup is delivering flexible lots for the businesses of tomorrow. Secure a fully-serviced lot from AU$320,000 ex. GST with high-speed internet and renewable energy options available.
LandCorp promotes, offers and assists on a range of local, State and Federal Government incentives for Peel Business Park. The Shire of Murray is currently offering a three-year rate holiday and will waive all local government planning and building fees for the first five businesses who commit to purchasing in Stage 1*.