This Indigenous-led research project responds to a call for support from Indigenous leaders to enable the Indigenous-led bush products sector (bush foods, native plant derived industries, botanicals-based products) to grow and flourish across northern Australia. In partnership with representatives from Indigenous bush product-based enterprises, CSIRO and James Cook University researchers identified the baseline condition of the sector, the development priorities, and key research needs to ensure its growth is culturally appropriate and sustainable.

The challenge

Supporting the growth of a new sector

The evolving Indigenous-led bush products sector has potential to provide innovative and sustainable pathways to support Indigenous Futures in northern Australia.

Concurrently, Indigenous leaders and researchers have identified the need for research to develop culturally appropriate business models that consider the unique interests of and challenges faced by Indigenous people, and the co-benefits (e.g. social, cultural, health/wellbeing) they derive from involvement with on-country bush product enterprises.

The increasing profile of this sector coincides with the Australian Government emphasis in the White Paper for developing Northern Australia, that Indigenous entrepreneurship and business development is at the forefront of harnessing the economic potential of northern Australia. There is a call from Indigenous leaders for Industry, government and research support to enable such enterprises to flourish.

Our response

Building bush products

The project, Building the Traditional Owner-led Bush Products Sector across northern Australia, identified the baseline condition of the sector, as well as the development priorities (and research needs) to ensure culturally appropriate and sustainable growth.

The scoping project, funded by the Coooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), CSIRO and James Cook University within in-kind support from Project Partners, was led by an Indigenous Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the Kimberley Land Council, the Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and IN-Group Investments.

A representative from Australian Native Foods and Botanicals (ANFAB) provided industry support; and CSIRO and JCU scientists provided research and project management support.

The results

Tackling challenges

Project outputs include a scoping study and literature review that investigated challenges such as those relating to Indigenous cultural and intellectual property and benefit sharing, co-benefits and trade-offs that may arise from bush product enterprises.

Further outputs include an Indigenous network (developed from a workshop that brought together Indigenous entrepreneurs to discuss challenges and opportunities in development of the bush products sector) and a Strategic Sector Development and Research Priority Framework that identifies the priority needs and opportunities for the development of the TO-led bush products sector in northern Australia.

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