Unique Climate Defines Tasmanian Agribusiness
The island of Tasmania is home to some of the most pristine areas of the natural world remaining on the planet today. Its unspoiled environment and cool temperate conditions make it an ideal place for a wide array of specialized agricultural products. Today’s global economy and demand for natural food products have helped make some of this nation’s farmers quite successful in finding themselves a niche market.
Because much of the island is far too rugged for farming, only about one quarter of the land is suitable for agriculture. And of that farmland, the vast majority is used for the grazing of stock animals for the production of meat, dairy products, and wool. The small amount of arable land remaining is used for botanical products and crops. Despite their small share of the farmland, these vegetables, herbs, and fruits account for nearly half of the country’s agricultural economy. These slivers of the countryside produce excellent wines, exotic essential oils, and delicious fruits.
The more recent additions to the country’s farming community have been world-class vineyards. Although the history of viticulture in Tasmania goes back to early settlement, not until more recent years did the island gain an international reputation for fine wines. Since the climate is cooler than any of Australia’s wine-producing regions, Tasmanian wines distinguish themselves from much of what is produced on the mainland. Certain grapes thrive in this climate, similar to Europe, and the volcanic soils contribute to the unique flavors of the wine. Tasmania’s sparkling wines have had some connoisseurs taking notice most recently, but a variety of white and red grapes find the weather favorable.
Herbs grow well in soil unsuited for vegetable crops, and Tasmania is renowned for its fragrant fields of lavender and peppermint, among others. Lavender oil is a marvelous agricultural product, and some of the finest available anywhere is made on this island. It is used in aromatherapy for its delicate perfume, plus it is great for the skin and repels flying insects. It also has medicinal properties and can alleviate pain and itching from insect bites or stings. Some essential oil producers in Tasmania produce such fine quality oils that they ship their products all over the globe.
A wide variety of fruits also enjoy the climate of Tasmania such as cherries, plums, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, and apples – to name a few. Perhaps best of all are the different varieties of cherries that grow on the southern coast of the island. The clean water that precipitates there keeps the fruit pure and flavorful, and the timing of the growing season fills a gap in worldwide demand. Many of these farms are neighbored by small communities where generations of families have worked the same orchards for decades.
Agriculture in Tasmania and the products it produces today stemmed from a long tradition of cultivation on the island. But modernization and irrigation continues to expand operations as the reputation of Tasmanian agriculture grows.