AgriFutures Rural Futures Request for Quotation: Agricultural Sector Vulnerabilities - Building Supply-Chain Resilience

AgriFutures Australia is seeking services to explore agricultural supply-chain resilience (import and export) and identify interventions, strategies and actions to help accelerate sector resilience to a range of potential challenges and shocks.

The focus for this work is on the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector and the vulnerability of infrastructure—transport and logistics around product supply (eg. fertiliser or chemicals) as well as maintaining pathways for product export. A key aspect of the services required is to build a framework or system to manage external shocks, both pre-emptive and reactive, and extend the findings to producers, industry, agribusiness and government. The outcome is to support adoption of identified strategies, policies and investments to build agricultural supply-chain resilience.

The Rural Futures Agricultural Sector Vulnerabilities – Building Supply-Chain Resilience RFQ closes 12pm (AEST) Friday, 16 April 2021.


AgriFutures Australia has a mandate to invest in cross-sectoral research, development and extension (RD&E)—ie. issues that affect multiple primary industries and/or communities. The Rural Futures program funded under AgriFutures’ Arena 2: National Challenges and Opportunities, was established to specifically deliver on that cross-sectoral mandate.  Investments in the Rural Futures program are designed to create impactful change for producers and industries by recognising critical barriers and developing opportunities for growth.

Given the number of issues currently facing the agricultural sector, AgriFutures Australia undertook research to scope, filter and prioritise specific areas of investment.  Some of the factors considered were:-

(i) creating the greatest impact for primary producers and industries,

(ii) potential for collaboration, and

(iii)  was the issue positioned in a unique space where few others, if any, were active.

One area identified for potential investment was understanding and responding to sector vulnerabilities, particularly for cross-sectoral challenges.

Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector faces many risks, such as climate and market volatility, pests and diseases, extreme weather events, cyber security and malicious intent, as well as an ever-increasing number of protracted crises and conflicts. Natural disasters being just one type of system shock that has resulted in lost agricultural production valued at billions of dollars. The human food chain is under continuous threat from an increase in the number of outbreaks of transboundary animal and plant pests and zoonotic diseases. Conflict and crises are forcing more and more people into conditions of poverty, food insecurity and displacement. This has become the “new normal,” and the impact of climate change is likely to further exacerbate these threats and challenges.

Covid-19 has focused our attention on a serious underlying fragility that goes well beyond health. This fragility stems from the fact that our health, energy, finance, and food systems are all connected. There are clear lessons to be learned for Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector about how supply chains that cross multiple borders are vulnerable to a host of intersecting economic, social and environmental risks associated with Australia’s participation in global systems, markets and supply chains.

While Covid-19 has proven to be one of the biggest and broadest value chain shocks in recent memory, it is only the latest in a series of disruptions. In 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami in Japan shut down factories that produce electronic components for cars, halting assembly lines worldwide. Just a few months later, flooding swamped factories in Thailand that produced roughly a quarter of the world’s hard drives, leaving the makers of personal computers scrambling. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, hit Texas and Louisiana. It disrupted some of the largest US oil refineries and petrochemical plants, creating shortages of key plastics and resins for a range of industries. Forty weather disasters in 2019 caused damages exceeding $1 billion each—and in recent years, the economic toll caused by the most extreme events has been escalating. The world is experiencing more trade disputes, higher tariffs, and broader geopolitical uncertainty.

These examples highlight the potential for significant flow-on effects for Australia’s rural sector from global events. Looking beyond the present, and not minimising its importance, the Covid-19 crisis will likely be a trigger for fundamental transformation of agriculture and the global food system and its supply-chains.

These circumstances present an opportunity to accelerate transformation in the rural sector to build its resilience in the face of a range of challenges. The ability for producers, industry, agribusiness, markets and governments to operate and cooperate in fragile and disaster-prone situations will become a defining feature for achieving resilience and sustainability.


This program of work seeks to identify weaknesses, choke points and vulnerabilities in agricultural supply-chains and critical pathways that need to be strengthened to increase the sector’s preparedness and response to external risks. We are seeking to complete an impact assessment of the agricultural supply-chain to potential shocks, examine the existing policy measures and response levers and their effectiveness, and build a framework to effectively respond to future shocks, identifying new measures to build supply-chain resilience.

Key to this work is understanding critical success factors that enable agricultural supply-chains, from product suppliers right through to farming, fisheries and forestry businesses, to adapt their business models in times of crisis quickly enough to avoid the most negative consequences and have confidence in their response. Pre-emptive planning and action are key to building resilience and minimising disruption in the face of significant change.

This project is a significant undertaking, and all modes of transport and logistics infrastructure are included—road, airfreight and ports/ sea freight. It is designed to be as practical as possible and consider the breadth of possible challenges—from the producers right through the global supply-chain for the import and export of agricultural products.

This is a truly cross-sectoral issue, although some industries may be more risk-exposed than others. Once the impact assessment is completed and the resilience framework built, a key component is to extend the findings to those industries most impacted by potential disruptions. This will involve proactive engagement with relevant industries as well as the sector as a whole, to communicate the findings of the work and the changes or pre-emptive actions required to build supply-chain resilience. There is scope within this project to understand the barriers or gaps that exist in achieving the required change, be it policy implications, producer awareness and/ or skills, and trade barriers that need to be overcome. This analysis of known barriers is to form part of the impact analysis and framework or system for response.

Project requirements

While motivated by the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic, the conversation around rural sector vulnerability expands to a broader exploration of the shocks and crises. These shocks have the potential to disrupt agricultural production and threaten food security, locally and globally. These disruptions have the potential to significantly impact key production inputs. This investigation specifically focuses on infrastructure (transport and logistics) as it relates to global product supply-chains—import of products e.g. fertiliser and chemicals, and export of agricultural food and fibre. Transport and logistics include road, airfreight and ports/ sea freight.

To undertake this work, AgriFutures Australia is seeking the expertise of suitably qualified individuals, consultants or researchers to deliver against the deliverables listed below.

Specific deliverables include:

  1. Map the range of possible ‘system shocks’ and disruptions internal and external to the sector, specifically regarding the cross-sectoral issue(s).

a. Particularly consider:

i. What disruptions are most plausible

ii. The scale of potential impacts

iii. Which industries might be most impacted

iv. What is the opportunity cost of not boosting resilience/ potential payoffs for making the change

v. Intersecting issues, or what is the degree of interconnectedness or reliance on other systems and networks.

  1. Undertake an impact assessment, particularly looking at where are the weaknesses, choke points and vulnerabilities in agricultural supply-chains and critical pathways that need to be strengthened.
  2. Review existing policy, regulatory and production measures and responses to similar shocks, including an evaluation of which policy measures have proven most effective in the past.
  3. Identify new measures, strategies and influencing factors that may be needed to respond to system-wide shocks and assess the potential efficacy, impact and effectiveness.
  4. Combine the findings into a comprehensive resilience map/plan/framework, clearly articulating what change is necessary to build resilience and who should be responsible for each action.
  5. Identify barriers or gaps in implementation and possible strategies to address them.
  6. Design and deliver an extension and engagement approach to support the implementation of the framework.

Success for this project would result in producers, industry, agribusiness and government having a clear ‘line of sight’ to the possible shocks that could impact agricultural supply-chains and the identification of measures to build resilience so that the sector is better prepared to weather these potential shocks. At the conclusion of this work, the key stakeholders listed should have information available on possible policy measures and levers to respond under different scenarios, and where possible, have taken pre-emptive action to better prepare the sector to respond.

Key to this work is to engage widely. There are many players that need to be consulted and engaged through this work. Part of the project will be to ensure that relevant groups across agriculture, transport and logistics and infrastructure (eg. ports and airports) are involved in the impact assessment and development of the framework.

This is a large project and delivery is expected to exceed 12 months. Respondents are encouraged to clearly outline their proposed approach in addressing the specific deliverables as well as the stakeholder engagement, communication and extension approach.

Respondents will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  1. Organisational capability/technical skills
  2. Impact/ methodology/ project plan
  3. Value for money
  4. Extension impact and likely adoption.

Project proposals will be considered by an expert panel comprising representatives from industry, government, RDCs and AgriFutures Australia.

Submitting an application

AgriFutures Australia is moving to a new online project management system, K2. This system will manage all stages of project administration and will eventually replace our current system, Clarity.

Applications for this Request for Quotation must be submitted online using the RFQ application in K2.

If you had a previous account in Clarity, you can login using your Clarity username or email address and the initial password K2pass!

You will be prompted to reset this initial password when you login. If at any time you forget your password, you can also reset it via a forgotten password link on the login page.

Users must create a K2 account before submitting a proposal. To set up a secure account before submitting a proposal, contact the AgriFutures Australia helpdesk for a username and password by emailing

Usernames and passwords will only be issued while the applicable round is open.

If you require assistance, please contact

Terms and conditions

By submitting an application, respondents acknowledge that they are willing to accept the terms and conditions set out in the Provider Agreement.

The Respondent agrees that AgriFutures Australia may accept or decline to accept the Respondent’s Quotation in its discretion. No commitments or contract exists until a contract in the form of the Provider Agreement is executed by both parties. The Respondent agrees that AgriFutures Australia is not required to enter into any contract in connection with the RFQ.

The Respondent agrees that participation in any stage of the RFQ process is at the Respondent’s sole risk and cost.

Acceptance of a Quotation will occur only when an Agreement is issued or a contract is executed.

AgriFutures Australia, at its discretion, may discontinue this RFQ, decline to accept any Quotation, decline to issue any contract or satisfy it requirement separately from this RFQ process.


Date Activity
17 March 2021 RFQ application open
16 April 2021 RFQ application close
28 April 2021 Expected execution of contract or issue of agreement
28 April 2022 Expected project completion date



If you have any questions about the RFQ process or requirements in the management services, please contact:

Jennifer Medway

Senior Manager, Business Development