The Agribusiness Regional Development Association (ARDA) will be running free tailored programs for primary producers and processors to help them diversify and expand their customer base.
Although it's been a fairly good season weather wise for many South Coast farmers, the last 12 months have seen multiple natural disasters and an ensuing pandemic, both of which have given rise to a renewed sense of importance to diversifying markets.
ARDA is a not-for-profit that has received funding for a diversification program from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under its Package Assisting Small Business Exports grant program.
The aim of the program will be to assist NSW producers with market diversification to access new markets and achieve long-term sustainability.
South Coast Area ARDA Coordinator Fiona Kotvojs said that producers on the South Coast tend to have fairly small markets, "and particularly during COVID, if you loose one market then you're really stuck."
Ms Kotvojs said that diversification would look different for different businesses.
For example for a business that is currently selling locally, it might be that they expand to be selling through larger outlets in Canberra or Sydney.
Another example would be getting a group of businesses together to ensure a continuous supply and then selling into restaurants or butchers, where they can get a premium for their product.
It could also look like expanding into exports where a range of producers work together to produce a constant supply for an overseas market.
"Many of the problems in terms of being to diversify your market is that most of the producers down here are fairly small and have difficulty meeting a certain demand, but by working together with other farmers you're better able to access some of those markets," said Ms Kotvojs.
ARDA will also aim to take key findings related to the issues impacting a producer's ability to diversify into new markets back to the government and then advocate and strategize for ways to have those challenges resolved.
Not only will they be able to offer diversification advice and government advocacy, they are able to give tangible solutions and teach real skills throughout the program.
Producers or processors can register here for a 45 minute online session throughout the month of September to find out more about the new program supporting regional producers.
The initial session will go over how much time will be required, what the aim of the program is, and how producers can benefit from it.
Once producers have attended the online information session, they will be able register and a survey will help identify their particular restraints and challenges to cater the program appropriately.
Some of the sessions in the program will be workshops and others may be helping to make connections between producers who may wish to start working together.
If you are interested and would like to access more information, please contact Fiona Kotvojs on 0448 453 422 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively contact Mia Maze on 0413 671 000 or via email email@example.com.