Agriculture, forestry and fishing

The growth of Northern Territory's (NT) agriculture, forestry and fishing industry is a useful indicator to reflect economic activity in the NT's regional and remote areas.  It has important linkages to other sectors of the economy, including retail and wholesale trade, manufacturing and transport. In this section, analysis is provided on activity and production for live cattle and buffalo exports, as well as other livestock products and exports, horticulture, fisheries and forestry.

Economic contribution | Contribution to employment | Agriculture | Horticulture | Fisheries | Forestry | Explanatory Notes

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry is a significant employer and source of economic activity in regional and remote areas of the NT. The industry has important linkages to other sectors of the economy, including retail and wholesale trade, manufacturing and transport. In the past few years, this industry has been performing below long-term averages reflecting a number of seasonal fluctuations and horticultural biosecurity setbacks, which affected production levels.

Economic contribution

Map 1: Northern NT Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing1 (click to enlarge)

Map 1

1  This map is produced from various sources. Department of Treasury and Finance cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency, or completeness of the information. To be used as a guide only.
Source: Department of Treasury and Finance; Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries

Contribution to employment


Live Cattle

International Live Cattle Exports

Interstate Live Cattle

Other Livestock

Boxed Beef




Threats to Horticulture production

Various exotic plant pests and diseases found in the NT are currently impacting the horticulture production for commercial fruit and vegetable growers.

In March 2020, fall armyworm moths were detected in agricultural areas around the NT. Fall armyworms are an invasive pest that is known to threaten more than 350 plant species, including maize, sorghum, corn, fruits and vegetables. The NT Government is working closely with other state and territory governments, industry groups and communities to manage this outbreak.

In April 2022, mango shoot loopers were detected on a farm in the Darwin rural area, following earlier cases in Queensland last year. The pest feeds on mango tree leaves, shoots, flowers and immature fruit. It can also attack lychee trees, although there are no commercial lychee growers in the NT. The Australian Mango Industry Association is working to inform growers about the pest and available insecticides.

For more information, visit the Plant diseases and pests information page on the NT Government website.


Crustacean production in the NT is dominated by prawns and mud crabs. Fish production largely comprises snapper, barramundi and mackerel. Aquaculture in the NT is primarily related to pearls and barramundi, with a small contribution from aquarium fish and spirulina production (the latter is used as a human diet supplement and a feed supplement in the aquaculture, aquarium and poultry industries). Reported data is the most recent available to date.

The Northern Prawn Fisheries (NPF) reports the number of prawn catches in northern Australia, in the area between Cape York in Queensland and Cape Londonderry in Western Australia. The NPF produces four common commercial species of prawns including white banana prawns, tiger prawns, eastern king prawns and endeavour prawns. The weather and ocean conditions, particularly the level of rainfall during the wet season, are very influential on the productivity of the fishery especially for banana prawns.


Plantation forestry is becoming an increasingly important industry and is currently the second largest production land user in the NT after cattle grazing, with more than 42,000 hectares  of the NT currently used to produce forestry products in managed plantations. There are currently three plantation forestry projects in the NT:

Explanatory notes