AGRICULTURE and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan attended the Northern Crop Research Alliance field day at the Kimberley Research Station in Kununurra on Friday and saw first-hand the large scale crop research program undertaken by the Northern Australian Crop Research Alliance (NACRA).
NACRA, a partnership between the Ord River District Co-operative, Kimberley Agricultural Investments and The Chia Company was formed to drive collaborative, commercial and market focused crop research in northern Australia.
Through the group’s deep knowledge of international market requirements, NACRA has identified that to meet the market demand for food and fibre crops in the future, three specific areas of crop R&D must be targeted including genetics, agronomy and cropping system requirements.
The $1.7 million project, ($1.2m from NACRA and $500,000 from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development grants program) directly addresses the opportunity for the Ord Valley to develop world-class field cropping production systems, with the focus on high yields and premium quality.
NACRA has set targets for quadrupling the farmgate value of Ord Valley crops from the current level to $55m in 2020.
These targets apply to chickpeas, corn, chia, quinoa, teff and other high value, functional food crops plus feed crops for animal and aquaculture opportunities in the region.
The potential for re-establishing a cotton industry in the Ord adds another $15m of value over the same period.
If these targets can be met, underpinned by productivity arising from NACRA’s R&D investments, the proportional contribution of the Ord to the State government’s target of doubling the value of the agricultural sector by 2025 will be more than met.
NACRA chairman John Foss said the research alliance was formed with a clear focus of collaborative, commercially focused research, specific to cropping systems in northern Australia.
“Our R&D priorities consider the end market requirements of every crop we are developing,” Mr Foss said.