Sunday 20th Oct, 2019

Project to test if spice will flow from Northern Australia

A new project will determine if Northern Australia could enter the billion-dollar global spice trade.

A new project will determine if Northern Australia could enter the billion-dollar global spice trade.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) will undertake the $1.2 million research project, which aims to lay the foundation for the high-value broadacre condiment industry.

If the project is successful, it may lead to Australian growers being able to meet domestic demand and explore potential exports.

Small field trials to be run in Queensland will test the performance of five spice crops: cumin, caraway, black sesame, kalonji and fennel.

Trials will be run in Rockhampton, Biloela, Burdekin, Tully, Katherine and Darwin.

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The project will run for three years and assess the market, supply and agronomic systems needed for Northern Australian farmers to adopt the spice crops.

Resources Minister, Matt Canavan said the project was a great opportunity to see if there is potential for growers to move to wide-scale commercial spice production and secure a share of the growing global spice trade.

“Each of these regions have already carved out a reputation for producing quality niche crop products and I look forward to seeing a little spice added to the mix,” Canavan said.

“It is thought the project will generate around $8.4 million in economic activity by the end of the third year, including about $1.2 million in income at farm gate level.

“If it takes off, there’s a great opportunity for us to replace imported product and potentially generate exports.”

Commercial trials will begin in the final year, where a manual will be provided to producers that details which crops to grow, the best areas to grow them and an outline of the market and supply chain.

The CRCNA project team includes seed and crop experts, irrigation and agronomist specialists, economic development experts, agronomists and six growers.

It is being led by Surya Bhattarai of CQUniversity and also includes Agriventis Technologies, the Burdekin-Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BBIFMAC), Rockhampton Regional Council, the NT Department of Primary Industry Resources, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and six growers.