Push for bush tucker

THE search is on in the Great Southern to find bush products that can be turned into export dollars.

The Great Southern Development Commission engaged Green Skills in April to identify natural vegetation that has financial potential, to narrow that down to four species and find land-owners who will farm these species.

The project also involves finding the end market for the products and identifying potential investors.

Bush products have potential as foodstuffs, essential oils, and even in pharmaceutical products.

This third use is the most challenging, because there are a number of registration issues involved with pharmaceutical products.

So far 20 farmers, including several Aboriginal landholder groups, have ex-pressed interest in farming bush species.

One of the Aboriginal groups already has successfully farmed banksias.

Two WA bush products – wildflowers and sandalwood – have proved to be export successes.

Besides the economic benefits, reintroducing native species to farmland can help reduce problems such as salinity and soil erosion.

Great Southern Development Commission CEO Bruce Manning says the commission’s role is to build partnerships to strengthen and diversify the region’s economic base.

“Business plans will be produced for the four products showing the highest potential,” Mr Manning says.

Indigenous natural resource management facilitator Kelly Flugge said the key to the project would be to com-bine training into the pilot projects.

Mr Flugge says the project would roll out slowly, even though the Comm-ission of Elders was keen to see it expanded to other parts of WA as quickly as possible.

“It is the intent of all the agencies sponsoring this project to see it succeed and evolve,” he says.

Green Skills project manager Louise Duxbury said the four-stage project would be finished next March. The key part of the project involves identifying the end market and potential investors.

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