Article – Northern Territory Government funds horticulture industry development in Central Australia, saying dates have lots of potential

11 May 2015
Nathan Coates
ABC Rural

The Northern Territory Government is putting $1.2 million into developing the horticultural sector around Central Australia, saying industries like dates and table grapes have a lot of potential.

AUDIO: Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry Willam Westra van Holthe says Central Australia’s date industry has development potential (ABC Rural)

Minister for Primary Industry Willam Westra van Holthe used a visit to Alice Springs to spruik the potential of dates and to re-announce the horticultural funding.

Mr Westra van Holthe said the government-run, 100-palm date plantation in Alice Springs was an example of how Australia could supply a market which currently relied on imports.

ABC Rural has been told that the plantation has taken 30 years to become fully established. A table grape grower said $1.2 million dollars over two years for the horticultural industry would not go far.

Minister Westra van Holthe said the Government had competing priorities for budget money and the funding should not be considered in isolation.

“On top of the $1.2 million we’ve got for horticulture in Central Australia there’s money that’s gone into identifying new areas for agricultural development”, he said.

“There is ongoing work being done [in relation to] land, soil and water resources.”
Mr Westra van Holthe said the funding would be applied to ensure good value.

“We want departmental staff and research staff out talking to commercial growers,” he said.

“We are in discussion with local farmers about the types of opportunities that exist for expanding horticulture.

“We are not averse to talking to investors from interstate who are interested in coming to Central Australia and looking at the opportunities here.”

 

PHOTO: Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry, Willam Westra van Holthe, tries a date at the government run plantation in Alice Springs.

Courtesy of ABC Rural

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