|3||Some major agricultural commodities|
|6||Other agricultural commodities|
|7||The Future of Agriculture in the MDB|
Agriculture is the dominant economic activity in the Murray-Darling Basin . Further, the Basin is Australia ’s most important agricultural region, accounting for just over 34 per cent of the nation’s gross value of agricultural production (ABS 2003; Bryan & Marvanek 2004) in 2000/2001. The MDB dominates Australian irrigated agriculture. The area of irrigated agriculture in the Basin is 1.9 million hectares which is 75% of the Australian total of 2.5 million hectares in 2000/2001.
The Basin has been termed Australia ’s agricultural heartland, its ‘food basket’, but it is much more than that, as its agricultural output makes a major contribution to the national economy. Agriculture provides the raw materials for most of the MDB’s manufacturing activity, as well as many processing companies beyond the Basin. In the long term the Basin has the potential to make a major contribution to the expansion of Australia ’s food exports, provided that this is undertaken in a way that is consistent with sustainable land management. However, the drought conditions which have occurred over the last decade (since about 1995) have affected, to varying degrees, almost all parts of the MDB and has resulted in reduced output and incomes of many agricultural enterprises (ABS 2001).
The information in this chapter is based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data for the 2000-2001 year (from the 2001 agricultural census) as analysed by Bryan & Marvanek (2004).
It is impossible to present information on all of the Murray-Darling Basin ’s agricultural activities. Following an overview of the main features of the Basin’s agriculture, details are given on some of the major agricultural activities. The final parts of this chapter reviews some of the many minor commodities and at the future of agriculture in the MDB.