THE potential for agricultural production opportunities in northern WA, including in walnuts, oils and cotton, have been outlined in a report released by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA).
DAFWA commissioned the Growing the North report to identify high-potential products which would suit northern production conditions and export market demands.
Report authors and Coriolis directors Tim Morris and Virginia Wilkinson found the high growth Asian and the Middle Eastern markets were attractive for WA, were importing significant volumes from WA and that WA could compete in these markets.
They reviewed climatic peer countries in similar weather zones, and said their findings showed the north could justify increased agricultural production.
"Climatic peers demonstrate there are major opportunities to increase agriculture in the north,'' the report states.
"Countries in a similar climatic zone, from Mozambique to Israel, are producing and exporting high value products and products to the world.
"If climatic peers can produce these products, so can WA.
"But due to conditions in the north, success will depend on growing products that are robust, mechanically harvested and which thrive in the heat. Achieving scale and utilising modern farm practices is critical for WA to compete globally."
Mr Morris and Ms Wilkinson highlighted 18 high potential products, including walnuts and cotton, for irrigated agriculture in northern WA.
In the Pilbara, they looked at crude sunflower seed and safflower oil, raw cane sugar, manioc, grain sorghum, sesame seeds, soya beans, tobacco, cotton, dried beans and lentils.
The report identified the suitability, demand and challenges of growing a range of produce in these regions.
Department irrigated agriculture executive director John Ruprecht said the publication would help businesses, industry and investors identify the best market opportunities for irrigated agricultural produce in northern WA.
"Growing demand for safe, high quality food in Asia and the Middle East is creating a unique opportunity for the agricultural sector in the north," Mr Ruprecht said.
"Many products could be grown successfully in northern WA from a production point of view.
"What's different about the Growing the North report is that it takes a market-led approach, rather than a production focus, to target growing export markets and identify products with strong demand."
p The full report is available at www.agric.wa.gov.au.