Indigenous communities taking the lead in bushfood industry

13 October 2023


A University of Queensland project is using technology to create a native food value chain to ensure Indigenous communities and businesses benefit from the thriving bushfood industry. 

 Lyndon Michielsen
Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa Image: Lyndon Michielsen

Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa, director of UQ’s ARC Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods  said the food value chain brings together Indigenous knowledge, science and technology.

“We’ve been working on this project with our Indigenous Enterprise Group and software development company Smart Trade Networks,” Professor Sultanbawa said..

“This is a global first - enabling communities to take the lead, get a  premium quality product and access to national and international markets.” 

The value chain covers any bushfood product from conception, through the production process to the delivery to the consumer.

Indigenous Enterprise Group chair, Jagera, Yugambeh and Githabul woman Madonna Thomson from Nyanda Life said the rest of the world was realising the commercial and economic viability of bushfood. 

Headshot of Madonna Thomson in bushland setting
Madonna Thomson from Nyanda Life. Image: Megan Pope

“Our communities need to be shaping this industry or there’s a risk they could become marginalised as others begin to buy and grow native plants on a larger scale,” Ms Thomson said.

“It’s not just about how much money people can make but recognising the importance of Australia’s Indigenous communities and the cultural connection they have to the bush.

“This project will create equity, provenance and protection for our communities and businesses that harvest native bushfoods.”

Smart Trade Network Chair Warwick Powell said an app had been developed to allow communities to upload their knowledge on Country.

“The digitalisation of Australian agriculture, particularly in areas where provenance value is central to the long-term competitive value proposition, is hugely important,” Mr Powell said.

Headshot of Warwick Powell holding his glasses in front of her
Smart  Trade Network's Warwick Powell. Image: Megan Pope

“It takes what we know about the raw bush material and uses current technology to present the information in a way that resonates with the expectations of today’s consumers.”

Professor Sultanbawa said it was exciting to see the project come to fruition.  

“I’m very happy to have communities we have worked with over the past decade joining us on this journey and putting Australia’s Indigenous communities on the map,” she said.

This project is funded with a National Agriculture Traceability Grant from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Images and video are available on Dropbox

Media: Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa,; +61 455 934 640; Madonna Thomson,, +61 435 795 337; QAAFI Media, Natalie MacGregor,, +61 409 135 651.

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.