Lavender is renowned as a hardy staple in Australian gardens so it is little surprise researcher see promise in cultivating the perennial as a cash crop across the country.
According to a report commissioned by research and development corporation AgriFutures the global lavandula oil industry could rise to US$220 million (A$345 million) by 2027.
AgriFuture commissioned the Strategic Australian Lavender Industry Research, Development and Extension plan to look at opportunities for the crop, which can be used in the fragrance, cosmetics and food and beverage sectors, as well as the production of high-quality lavender oil.
The report found the major opportunities existed in growing the plant for lavandula oil extraction, with projections for an annual growth rate in the lavandula oil sector of 5.3 percent in the global market from 2020 to 2027, catapulting its value from US$153.5 million to US$220 million.
Veronica Borrett, senior director at the La Trobe institute for sustainable agriculture and food, said these market opportunities, combined with lavender's tough Mediterranean background, which enables it to withstand harsh Australian growing conditions, meant it was something farmers should consider.
She said it was now industry's time to provide support to growers.
"As we look at agronomy, varietal information, and industry capacity, we see a clear path forward for growth," Dr Borrett said
"In the next five years, the industry will be working towards a step-change in production with clearly defined varieties and the delivery of agronomy information that is currently lacking for existing growers and for those wanting to enter the market."
The Strategic Australian Lavender Industry RD&E Plan 2023-2028 is a five-year, $2.5 million plan with the highest-priority areas for investment including the development of a structured agronomy program, research and development on the impacts and management of waterlogging and drought.
Other key areas included identifying lavender varieties, improving market access, and building industry capacity through infrastructure, leadership, marketing, and data.
As Dr Borrett explains, addressing knowledge gaps is the key to unlocking lavender's full potential.
"This will enable selection of the correct variety for their local environment, optimised farming practices and information on the impacts of adverse weather events, such as water logging and drought."
AgriFutures Australia senior manager, emerging industries, Olivia Reynolds, said ongoing diversification of the lavender industry will be an important factor in driving growth.
She said the aesthetics of the crop could help generate a valuable secondary income.
"We are already seeing many mass planters of lavender capitalising on their picturesque farm locations to drive on-farm sales, tourism, cafes, photo shoots, and event hosting," Dr Reynolds said.
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