Queensland, Australia has a very high variability in rainfall, and this can effectively leave the State extremely vulnerable to long dry spells that can result in droughts that can last for several years. These weather conditions and ongoing drought can spell disaster for both the agricultural and water sectors.
Fortunately, the Queensland Government realises that in order to better manage the economic and environmental impacts of climate variability, it needs to engage and encourage agricultural businesses to do so.
Around 30,500 businesses carry out agricultural activity in Queensland, making it the largest land area in Australia dedicated to agriculture. Agricultural industries in Queensland contribute in excess of $17 billion to the State’s economy annually and provide employment for more than 50,000 individuals.
Queensland’s Government has instituted a climate adaptation program that is focused on helping agricultural businesses better manage climate variability. Improving seasonal forecasting and providing tools and systems that will support agricultural businesses in their decision-making are key outputs. It is estimated that increasing the lead time of reliable forecasts and improving the accuracy of seasonal climate forecasts will afford agricultural businesses improved confidence in forecasts, which will significantly increase their capacity to plan for and manage drought. The program will also provide practical adaptation strategies.
Supporting agricultural businesses is vital for any government as it will ensure long-term productivity of the sector, which will benefit the economy as a whole. Australian, State and Territory governments are all signatories to Australia’s National Drought Policy reform which aims to encourage agricultural businesses to adopt self–reliant approaches to managing their business risks, as well as adapt to and prepare for, the impacts of drought.
The Queensland Government realises that drought also has a profound impact on the well-being of individuals and families and on the social fabric of a community as a whole. It therefore has a whole-of-government drought policy that provides various types of assistance targeted at affected individuals, families, communities, and businesses.