Food and Fibre Great South Coast targets $40m a year boost from smarter water use in south-west Victoria

February 17 2022 - 8:00am
Food and Fibre Great South Coast executive officer Natalie Collard says understanding the added value of smarter water use is invaluable to the region's future.

A report by Food and Fibre Great South Coast has revealed south-west Victoria's food and fibre sector could add $40 million worth of value to the local economy by increasing its agricultural water usage by 10 per cent.

The BDO EconSearch report, commissioned by Food and Fibre Great South Coast in partnership with local councils, found that a 10pc increase in irrigation and water efficiency across food and fibre production would unlock further employment and financial opportunities.

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Food and Fibre Great South Coast executive officer, Natalie Collard, said understanding the added value of smarter water use was invaluable to the region's future.

"It's wonderful to know that improving the efficiency of our water use would not only yield better production outcomes for the region, but also improve the lives of households and families in a very real way," Ms Collard said.

"We're now targeting a 10pc increase to productive water use across industries like dairy, horticulture and livestock.

"That's estimated to bring about some $40 million in economic growth per year across the region.

"Boosting production through better irrigation would also create an estimated 400 new full time equivalent jobs by increasing demand for livestock management, local production activity, and manufacturing support."

Ms Collard said the research told the group that meant an added $21.7 million to household incomes, growing local consumption and wellbeing.

"This report confirms what we've always known - the entire region thrives when food and fibre thrives."

This report confirms what we've always known - the entire region thrives when food and fibre thrives.

- Natalie Collard, Food and Fibre Great South Coast executive officer

Understanding the future of the region's food and fibre sector was vitally important to policy decisions and investment, demonstrated by the local government and community contribution to the research.

"It's great to see reports like this be funded by local councils, as well as groups like Deakin University and Wannon Water," Ms Collard said.

"This support proves that stakeholders are ready to invest in growing our industry and wider community wellbeing.

"We'll now be working hard with leaders in farming and industry to ensure this 10pc increase target can be achieved sustainably."

Moyne shire chief executive Bill Millard said the council strongly supported changes to make better use of water, to create jobs and provide an economic boost to the entire region.

"Food and Fibre is critical for Moyne Shire Council, with more than 37pc of our residents employed in the sector," he said.

"This research shows that by making better use of water resources in a responsible way, we can create hundreds of new jobs and unlock tens of millions of dollars' worth of economic activity while still ensuring sustainability of the water supply."

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Through its 'Realising the Water Opportunity' committee, the group prioritises sustainable water management, monitoring and usage as a key strategic pillar.

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