AUSTRALIAN superannuation fund managers should "show some leadership" and invest in agriculture, says Victorian Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh.
Mr Walsh said capital investment would help Victoria significantly increase food and fibre production and that would come from a mix of sources, including domestic and foreign money.
"The super funds are an interesting creature," he told a Rural Press Club of Victoria.
"I'd like to see them invest more in the production systems. I could be cynical and say they effectively drive the sharemarket and the CBD property market in Australia. It would be good if one of them actually broke out and showed some leadership and went into something a bit more productive than those two particular markets.
"But that is up to them, because they're playing with yours and my super, so we don't want them to risk it too much," he said.
Mr Walsh said some exciting joint ventures had occurred in recent years involving foreign investors and local agriculture/food projects, and that would continue.
Later, he told Fairfax Media that large superannuation funds could make a "substantial investment in agriculture", even by allocating to agriculture just a fraction of their overall money.
Brent Finlay, president of the National Farmers Federation (NFF), joined Mr Walsh in encouraging super funds to invest in agriculture.
"We'd certainly like to see superannuation money invested," he said.
"Capital investment into agriculture is really important and I don't think there's ever been a better time to invest in agriculture. We've got this massive opportunity."
Presently, superannuation funds seem to have only a small connection to Victorian agriculture. However, the $13 billion superannuation fund VicSuper, which says it has more than 240,000 members, owns farmland in north-west Victoria near Swan Hill.
Considerable investment and improvements have been made to some of this land, with a landmark cotton crop grown there recently.
Mr Finlay said overseas pension funds had also recently invested in agriculture in Queensland.
Meanwhile, in a bid to develop closer ties in some key Victorian agricultural export markets, Mr Walsh announced that should it win the November state election, the Coalition would hire three food and beverage trade specialists, to be based in Japan, Thailand and the Middle East, a move immediately welcomed by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF).
These staff would "play an important role in connecting businesses with buyers and positioning Victoria as a producer of high-value, high-reliability produce", Mr Walsh said.
The recent Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report revealed that the State's food and fibre exports were valued at a record $11.4 billion in 2013-14, a 12 per cent jump on the previous year.
Mr Walsh predicted that by 2030, Victorian agricultural production would be double what it was in recent years.
He forecast that in 2030, Victorian agriculture would be "Asia's high-end deli. We're not actually their Coles or Woolies ... we want to aim for that high-value end of the market, we're not going to supply the mass market."
Painting a bright picture of how Victorian agriculture would look in 2030, he said: "Our industry is the heartbeat of the Victorian economy and the envy of the world."