The Western Australian Government’s Gascoyne Food Bowl initiative — which is aimed at expanding horticultural production in the Carnarvon area — will commence exploratory drilling for bore water next month.
According to the article on the ABC, approximately 400 hectares of land will be opened up under the Gascoyne Food Bowl initiative, which also includes a commitment to source four gigalitres of water for the new production areas and plans to electrify the existing northern borefield.
However, growers remain wary of the outcome of the initiative, with recent water crisis and summer pumping restrictions still fresh in their minds.
Doriana Mangili from the Sweeter Banana Co-operative said growers welcomed the exploratory drilling but remained concerned about a lack of resources for existing growers.
“The exploratory drilling is fantastic because we’re short of water, in terms of new land. That’s a concern, if our existing growers don’t have enough water to use their farms to full capacity,” she said.
“There is a lot of underdeveloped land across Carnarvon that isn’t being cultivated because of a lack of water. It seems crazy to release new land when we haven’t got enough water for the land that already exists.”
Tony Della Bosca, the head of the Gascoyne Food Bowl project, said the Department of Agriculture and Food remained fully committed to supporting established growers.
“I know there are concerned growers out there, but there’s no way we’re going to abandon the existing industry. Quite the opposite, we’d like to encourage those guys to take the next step up,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of experience and talent out there and if we could get them to step up and take up more land, that would be great.”
The co-op is currently conducting an internal audit of land use on its members’ plantations to establish how many hectares are bare due to “unfullfilled potential”.
Growers along the river have remained on 80% of their allocation since the start of 2014.