Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford has announced the establishment of a new 25ha research facility in Mildura to boost almond research and training and drive production and export growth.
The new experimental orchard will support the growing almond production of river communities in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales and focus on enhancing the quality of almond crops while also helping to minimise pest and disease damage to meet export standards for residues and food safety tolerances.
Minister Pulford said that by increasing research into the almond industry, the Labor Government was looking to improve production and export volumes while producing higher quality almonds that use less water and nutrients.
“The Andrews Labor Government is supporting the local almond industry to grow exports and further build recognition of our almonds in the global market,” Ms Pulford said in a press release.
“We’re committed to enhancing the productivity of Victorian food and fibre producers, which will create jobs and attract investment to our river communities.”
In the meantime, South Australian Minister for Agriculture, Leon Bignell announced the development of a new National Almond Centre of Excellence at Loxton in partnership with the University of Adelaide.
Minister Pulford said the Labor Government would collaborate with South Australia and the Almond Board of Australia (ABA) as part of the new national program for almond research in partnership with international research agencies.
Almonds are Australia’s largest and fastest growing horticulture export, with an estimated farm-gate value in excess of $700 million in 2015. Almonds are also Victoria’s highest value horticulture export, with exports totalling $366 million in 2013–14, up $229 million compared to the previous year.
“With nearly 70% of Australia’s almonds grown in Victoria and over 70% of the crop now being exported, the focus on issues that make our almonds even more competitive in overseas markets is a key to ensuring the industry continues to prosper,” said Neale Bennett, Chair of Almond Board of Australia.
“A pleasing aspect of the negotiations is the co-operation between the Ministers and Department staff in Victoria and South Australia to ensure an increased capability for the industry is supported.”