Agribusiness and aquaculture

The Northern Territory presents significant potential for the production of clean and safe foods, in an environment with good water resources and arable land suitable for livestock grazing and other agricultural development.

Demand for protein from the rapidly increasing middle class population in Asia is forecast to grow significantly over the coming decades. Concerns about food security in the region will increasingly lead to a premium on safe, clean food which can be produced in the Northern Territory. Prices for high quality food are likely to increase in line with growing global demand, enhancing potential returns.

Australia's niche and premium food supply offerings are prized around the world. Opportunities to grow and produce foods at scale are available throughout the Northern Territory.

The supply chain to neighbouring markets is supported by a developing system of road, rail and air and sea port infrastructure.

Recent activity

Well-established agricultural areas produce cattle, seafood, fruit, vegetables, field crops and forestry products. There are also opportunities to develop significant areas of land where good soils and water co-exist.

In addition to the high priority placed on agribusiness by the Northern Territory Government it is also an important focus for the Australian Government, already paying dividends with new investment from countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Recent agribusiness investments in the Northern Territory include:

  • Australian Agricultural Company’s $91 million Livingstone Beef Processing facility, 50km south of Darwin, opened in 2015 and has a daily capacity of 1000 head of cattle. It services cattle grazing across northern Australia for export and domestic boxed beef markets.
  • Chinese and Vietnamese investment in large cattle stations for the production of tropical fruit, vegetables and field crops.
  • Investment from resource companies in cattle stations and the supply chain including live cattle export yards.

The Northern Territory is well known for producing world class barramundi, tropical fruits, pearls and crocodile leather products.

Advantages that set the Northern Territory apart

  • Substantial areas of arable land with the potential to develop new agricultural precincts capable of delivering production at scale.
  • Abundant and reliable rainfall in the north, water storage adjacent to major population centres, and access to underground aquifers.
  • Unspoilt, isolated environment with effective regulatory controls to maintain sustainable development, supported by strong biosecurity measures to minimise pest and disease risk.
  • High-level support for agricultural development in northern Australia from the Federal Government, with funding for research, infrastructure and trade promotion.
  • Established supply chain infrastructure and services to efficiently transport agricultural product to international markets.

Opportunities for investors

The Top End of the Northern Territory shares similarities in climate, weather patterns, and ethnic links with the tropical regions of South East Asia providing opportunity to meet market demands. The Northern Territory ‘s location means it can supply fresh produce when southern Australian and northern hemisphere products are out of season.


The extensive coastline of the Northern Territory provides many sites with pristine water suitable for aquaculture farms, isolated from potential incursion of disease. Barrumundi, prawn and pearl farms have been successfully established, and there is substantial scope for large scale investment.

Tropical fruits and vegetables

The Northern Territory is already a substantial producer of high quality mangoes and melons.

There are further successes in a range of tropical fruits and vegetables in high demand in Asian markets. The Department of Primary Industry and Resources has skills and expertise available to potential investors to assist with horticultural development opportunities and provides investment facilitation services.

Plantation forestry

There are substantial reserves of underground water in aquifers throughout the northern part of the Northern Territory, which can be drawn upon to support irrigation in large scale forestry plantations. Forestry is the largest land use after cattle grazing in the Northern Territory including sandalwood, African mahogany (cabinet timber) and brown Acacia (woodchips).

Tiwi Islands horticulture

The Tiwi Islands immediately north of Darwin are actively pursuing horticultural development of their fertile land, with the local Indigenous community providing an integrated package of support including ready access to land and labour.

Ripe mangoes on a tree