Undercover cropping plans revealed in northern Australia

Undercover cropping plans revealed in Northern Australia

Politics
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Growers and researchers to investigate Top End production systems and new export opportunities.

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The federal government will invest $443,000 investigating how to support growers who are looking to develop protected cropping businesses in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia (CRCNA) will take two years to investigate how to best support growers who want to establish commercial-scale protected cropping systems.

Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the top end has favourable growing conditions, and Asia a ready market, for protected crops.

"Large scale undercover cropping systems means growers can beat the heat, beat the insects and beat extreme weather," Senator Canavan said.

"Setting them up can be expensive, but the benefits of being able to reliably supply high quality produce into Asia's large consumer markets is a big incentive to take them up.

"A broader takeup of protected cropping in the north would mean increased reliability in supplying a greater range of product for export and more jobs in local communities."

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said there are at least 15 CRCNA projects underway to develop and diversify agricultural across northern Australia.

"With protected cropping being the fastest growing food producing sector in Australia, with a farm-gate value of around $1.8 billion each year, it makes good sense to look at how we expand its use in northern Australia."

LNP Senator Susan McDonald said Northern Australia was well-placed to meet demand from Asian markets for fresh, high quality produce.

"Our horticulture exports are up 3 per cent in value year on year, to be worth $11.7 billion in 2019/20," Senator McDonald said.

"We want to build on that that and this project complements the work the Government is already doing to develop the north's economic potential including funding research into water resources, building water infrastructure and building better roads."

The project will be run in partnership between producers in North Queensland, Carnarvon in WA ,and Lake Bennett in the NT.

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