28/07/2014 - 11:00

Kimberley focus for $15.5m water initiative

28/07/2014 - 11:00

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West Kimberley pastoralists have been promised $15.5 million in state funding to help the region become a major beef supplier to China and south-east Asia.

Kimberley focus for $15.5m water initiative
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman.

West Kimberley pastoralists have been promised $15.5 million in state funding to help the region become a major beef supplier to China and South-East Asia. 

Water Minister Mia Davies and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman launched the first stage of the Water for Food program over the weekend at Mowanjum Pastoral Company near Derby.

The program forms part of the state government's $300 million Seizing the Opportunity in Agriculture initiative, funded by Royalties for Regions.

Ms Davies said that, under the first stage of the program, an irrigation trial would be held on Mowanjum Station while a water investigation program across the Fitzroy River Valley would help stimulate investment in cattle production and future high-value agriculture.

“Water for Food is a $40 million program to investigate water sources and alternative land tenure implementation plans on pastoral stations to support the expansion of existing food production precincts, and the development of new ones, to tap into the massive demand for Australian produce in Asian export markets,” she said.

“The involvement of the Aboriginal-owned pastoral stations such as Mowanjum is essential to the state government’s plan to lift food production in the Kimberley.

“The project, funded by a partnership between the Mowanjum community and the state government, will see a centre pivot fodder irrigation system radically increase herd numbers and quality.” 

Mr Redman said the objective of the Royalties for Regions-funded program was to provide existing pastoral leaseholders with priority access to secure alternative forms of land tenure to enable them to attract capital into higher-value activities, such as irrigation. 

“Water for Food will seek to unlock the potential for intensive agriculture by identifying the most appropriate forms of land tenure to promote agricultural investment in Western Australia’s rangelands,” Mr Redman said. 

Ms Davies said the state government was also working with several Aboriginal cattle stations in the West Kimberley to form a co-operative to advance beef production on a regional scale. 

The program will also explore the potential to develop parts of the Knowsley agricultural area, on the outskirts of Derby, for future irrigation and intensive cropping. 

The program will identify water supply solutions and de-risk suitable land parcels within a 5,000-hectare envelope for both dryland farming and irrigated development. 

The first stage of the program will involve $3.6 million for stand-and-graze irrigation trials at Mowanjum Station, $2.78 million for water investigations in Knowsley, $6.1 million for a Fitzroy Valley groundwater investigation project and $2.9 million for a pastoral land tenure project. 

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