Aboriginal people, predominantly women in remote communities, have been involved in the regional bushfoods industry by harvesting seed on Country for over 40 years. In ‘the 1970s a cash-based trade in bush seeds developed (Merne Altyerre-ipenhe Reference Group et al., 2011) and this seasonal harvesting work has been led by Aboriginal women.
The Bushfoods Industry in Central Australia established on the work of up to 300-500 Aboriginal women harvesting seed in over 16 communities (Walsh and Douglas, 2011). Seed from the central desert regional has assisted in the growth of the national bushfoods industry from the 1980’s.
First National Bushfoods and Botanicals Alliance Australia (FNBBAA)is a 100% female-led charity currently developing our head office in Alice Springs with the support of the Northern Territory Government.
This project seeks to create an Indigenous female-led bushfoods and botanicals Retail and Tourist destination which will require (fit-out, stocking and staff) to develop the initial commercial retail space.
This space will showcase Indigenous bushfood & botanical products made by Aboriginal women. We also aim to establish a processing and education program, including a mobile division that focuses on educational product development for women in remote communities nationally.
Concurrently, we are also planning to co-warehouse with an Indigenous food business in Brisbane to develop an Aboriginal women’s produce and products market initiative to cater for initial Singapore clients to supply and provide an ethical and direct Indigenous produce supply chain market place.
Our project focus is to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women through education, training in the creation of sustainable commercial enterprises pertaining to bushfood and botanicals.
With an all female Board and CEO FNBBAA is leading the way in maintaining all precious cultural important knowledge and relations to the land and their native foods.
After all, “Plant Business is Women’s Business”
Currently there is only 1% Indigenous representation in the bushfoods and botanicals industry (Bushfood Sensations 2019 national survey). In Australia 85% of bushfood harvesters are Indigenous women. The identified representation base for Indigenous people in the industry is alarmingly low, so any increased economic participation will have a profound effect on the livelihoods of many Indigenous women and children (who are primarily the participants of the harvesting and process culturally) - especially in remote communities.
As the industry has an estimated value of $81.5m (2020 industry market study) with an estimated growth by 2025 at $160m. Our project aims to ensure that Aboriginal women’s representation and leadership in the Industry is increased, valued and secured.
By developing the Hub and mobile product development unit we aim to:
- increase Indigenous women’s participation in the burgeoning market - nationally and internationally to 5%.
- increase in bushfood and botanical product production by women across the industry.
- increase in raw and value-added product availability in the market place
- increase Indigenous women’s wild-harvest farmers outcomes and income.
- strengthening connections and opportunities amongst female producers and markets across the nation: FNBBA membership growth.
- expansion of supporting network collaborations with i2i Global, NTIBN, Supply Nation.
In line with the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report (Women’s’ Voices): Securing our Rights, Securing our Future Report (The Human Rights Commission, 2020), we aim to address some of the recommendations for improving the lives and opportunities for Indigenous women by supporting:
1. Significant investments into country-based programs and economic opportunities through land management, cultural tourism, art and design, country-based healing, education programs, diversionary and reconnection programs for young people, bush food and health product development
2. Urgent action on climate change by developing mechanisms for First Nations peoples to participate in climate change policy and mitigation
3. Increased access to services, education and employment opportunities for those living in remote and very remote locations through investment in digital infrastructure and services including, health, dialysis, disability and aged care
4. Expansion of land management programs by increasing annual funding and establishing long-term targets for women working on country through the Ranger Program and the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) program
We will share our project developments through our website and multi-media platforms - We have currently sort funding to develop a brand-new interactive website and members platform which will have a full matrix CRM for communication that will enable interaction, mentoring, network development and dissemination of any outcomes or project findings.
We are also developing a podcast series “The Business of Botanicals – extraordinary story telling journey into the heart of bushfoods, plants and plant medicines” to develop our own authentic Indigenous media content. Featuring interviews with the ‘professors of the desert’. We aspire in the long term to turn these into an Industry documentary.
First Nations Bushfood and Botanical Alliance Australia has been established to act as the voice and vehicle to lead the national conversations and change across Australia’s bushfood and botanical industry.
It provides leadership and direction in relation to the maintenance, improvement and development of the standards of Traditional Foods and Bush Medicine use and the protection of IP of our traditional foods and bush medicines in the Industry.
It is prioritising developing food safety and manufacturing education to facilitate economic development and increased market opportunities for First Nations participants – especially in remote communities.