The Western Australian Government has launched the first stage of a new program which is designed to help stimulate investment in cattle production and future high-value agriculture in the West Kimberley region.
Water Minister Mia Davies and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman launched the first stage of the Water for Food program at Mowanjum Pastoral Company near Derby on Saturday.
Under the $15.5million initative, which is part of the WA Government’s “Seizing the Opportunity in Agriculture” policy, pastoral stations in the West Kimberley will receive assistance to become major players in the beef export supply to China and South-East Asia.
Ms Davies said the first stage of the program would see an irrigation trial on Mowanjum Station and a comprehensive water investigation program across the Fitzroy River Valley to help stimulate investment in cattle production and future high-value agriculture.
“Water for Food is a $40million 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 Aboriginal-owned pastoral stations such as Mowanjum is essential to the State Government’s plan to lift food production in the Kimberley. The Mowanjum project, funded by a partnership between the Mowanjum community and the State Government, will see a centre pivot fodder irrigation system – established on a 400 hectare pastoral lease with a diversification permit – radically increase herd numbers and quality.”
Regional Development Minister Terry 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 Water for Food 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. This project aims to identify water supply options and de-risk suitable land parcels within a 5,000ha envelope for both dryland farming and irrigated development.
Source: WA Government