The productivity of Tasmanian agriculture is entirely out-of-proportion to its size and population, accounting for fully 10 percent of Australia’s vegetable production for domestic consumption and exports. Almost one third of the state’s land area of 68,300 square kilometers is given over to agricultural production, and while the percentage of the Tasmania population employed in the agricultural sector has declined, productivity remains high through the use of cutting edge technologies and methods many of which are honed in Hobart.
Tasmania is at the forefront of green and organic agribusiness, and the Tasmanian state government has placed a moratorium on the production of gene-modified crop hybrids and an outright ban on the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in Tasmanian livestock. Beef, lamb, pork, venison and other meats are therefore hormone and antibiotic-free, and have found a lucrative and stable market niche around the world because of these qualities.
Potatoes, carrots, onions and legumes are the major vegetable crops, grown mostly along the northern coast where the soils are exceptionally fertile. Recent trends in the diversification of broadacre crops include oil poppies for pharmaceutical uses, pyrethrum, essential oils from lavender, peppermint and boronia, berry fruits such as currants, raspberries and strawberries, and orchard stone fruits such as peaches, plums, cherries, apricots and nectarines.
Apples are also a famous product of Tasmania, which has often been called “the apple isle” in reference to the large and important apple industry. Though the production of apples has declined in recent decades, Tasmania is still known for the fine cider apples and hard ciders distilled from them. In fact, Tasmania is one of the few places in the world where the consumption of hard cider is not a recent fashionable trend since the consumption of fine hard ciders has never gone out of fashion in Tasmania and Hobart pubs.
Other important crops are barley and wheat, naturally, since Tasmania is home to Australia’s oldest brewery in the Cascade Brewery in Salamanca. The barley is also useful at the Hellyers Road Distillery in Burnie, for the production of the fine single malt whiskies distilled from Tasmanian grown barley and pure Tasmanian water and matured in used American white oak barrels.
Tasmanian viticulture is also becoming increasingly recognized throughout Australia and the world, and wine production is an important and growing sector of the Tasmanian economy. While Tasmanian vineyards date to 1788, and commercial wine production from the 1820s, it is only since the 1980s that winemaking has exploded as a full-fledged industry and put Tasmania and Hobart on the winemaking map of the world