Almond Centre of Excellence questions

The Hon. S.G. WADE (14:35): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries a question relating to the establishment of the almond centre of excellence.

The Hon. S.G. WADE (14:35): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries a question relating to the establishment of the almond centre of excellence.

 

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.G. WADE: This year the Australian almond crop will have a farm gate value of $500 million, with the South Australian industry contributing more than 20 per cent of national production. The Almond Board of Australia is investigating the establishment of a $10 million almond centre of excellence and they are in the process of deciding whether it should be constructed in either the Riverland or Sunraysia. The centre is planned to be a base for the development of advanced production systems, likely based on dwarfing rootstocks, enabling high density orchards with increased yields, shortened time frame to full production and a host of production benefits. My questions to the minister are:

1. What steps are the South Australian government taking to support the establishment of the centre in South Australia and what financial support is being offered to that goal?

2. Has the state government met with the Almond Board of Australia to discuss the proposal?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:36): I thank the honourable member for his most important questions. I have not been approached, to the best of my recollection, about the development of this centre of excellence. My door is always open. I have done a lot of work with the almond industry, particularly in the Riverland area. Honourable members would be well aware, as I have reported in this place on a number of occasions, of the assistance that we have given leading industry members like Almondco, and there have been others as well, through our Riverland Sustainable Futures Fund.

One of those assistance packages was to help them implement pasteurisation processes that would enable the industry to enter new markets, markets that were demanding pasteurisation of nuts, so we have a longstanding record of working with the almond industry and providing considerable assistance. As I said, I have not been approached, to the best of my recollection, about this centre or assistance for this centre. I would be very interested to receive information. As I said, I would be very pleased to offer whatever support this government is able to, depending on the details of the project, of course. I would welcome further information about this initiative.

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