Okra is an edible green vegetable that has become an Australian icon over the past year.
It has been promoted as a healthy alternative to the bland rice and bread that many Australians are accustomed to.
But in 2017, Okra overtook its Chinese rival to become the most popular vegetable in Australia.
“Okra is a big, strong green vegetable, like an avocado, so it’s been popular with Australians,” said Michelle Stirling, a food historian from the University of Sydney.
Ms Stirling said the popularity of Okra in Australia was partly a result of its low cost and high nutritional value, which she said was why Australians liked to eat it.
Ms Buhari said that, in order to make it commercially viable, the Government needed to increase its marketing budget.
“I think it’s just as important to keep this growing as it is to increase the price of the product, which we have,” she said.
“We have a lot of opportunities in this country to bring in new businesses, to grow our businesses.”
The Government’s marketing budget is about $500 million per year, according to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The Government says Okra and its derivatives have also been successful in increasing its trade with China.
Ms Shoukhrat Moo, an Okra expert from the Australian Institute of Food and Agriculture, said Australia’s Okra market was dominated by producers in China, the United States and other Asian countries.
“China is growing and they have been growing very rapidly for quite some time and the Okra trade is going very, very strong in that market, and we are looking to grow as well,” she told the ABC.
“So we see this as an opportunity for Australia to be a really important trading partner for these markets and also for our own farmers to continue growing.”
Ms Moo said the Government had made it clear it would support producers to increase their production, particularly if they could provide a steady supply of the green vegetable to the Australian market.
“But we also recognise that in order for the Okras to be an effective export competitor to Australia, there needs to be more of them on our shelves, which means we have to be careful not to oversell,” she explained.