A new survey of 114 superannuation funds has revealed that Australian funds are slipping behind other countries when it comes to investing in the agricultural sector.

The survey, commissioned by accounting group BDO and conducted by UQ Business School Professors Karen Benson and Robert Faff via UniQuest, shows that 0.3 per cent of the total assets of super fund investments is devoted to agriculture.

BDO national leader for agribusiness David Krause said the survey was a crucial start to energising the debate about Australia’s institutional investment in agriculture.

“There has been a lot of talk about why superannuation funds don’t invest in agriculture, but there really hasn’t been a lot of facts about it,” Mr Krause said.

“This is a starting point.”

Dr Dean Moss, Chief Executive Officer of UniQuest, said the survey report’s key findings represent an intriguing situation for the agriculture industry.

“The report outlines low levels of investment for the sector, but also highlights opportunities – how investment can be generated and, in turn, business opportunities created to reinforce the future of the agriculture industry in Australia,” Dr Moss said.

Professor Karen Benson, leader of the Finance Cluster at The University of Queensland, was surprised by the starkness of the survey outcome.

“Prior to this exercise, we were well aware that domestic institutional investors under-weight in agriculture. In light of the stark findings, we hope that discovering the reasons behind the absent exposure can assist the agricultural industry to become investment ready,” Professor Benson said.

Ms Wilma James, Senior Director of Expertise Commercialisation at UniQuest, said her team were very pleased to be involved with the Report.

“We were delighted that UniQuest was recognised by BDO for its ability to provide the expertise of the University of Queensland, and that we were able to assist,” Ms James said.

“We find that industry is increasingly seeking subject matter experts and key opinion leaders when they need specialist skills and a professional perspective from outside of their business to help them answer the tough questions affecting them,” Ms James said.

The full report is now available for viewing on the BDO website.

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