Sustainable development of a modern cotton industry

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The Territory Government is committed to sustainable social, environmental and economic regional development opportunities, such as the development of a modern cotton industry.

Cotton is a natural, premium, profitable and diverse product, with the potential to become a reliable cornerstone of the Northern Territory’s (NT) agriculture industry. The diversity of cotton crops allows many parts of the plant to be used from the lint, which is processed to produce yarn, and lint and seed by-products which are processed into oil, meal and hulls for human consumption, the production of soaps and cosmetics and as part of livestock feed.

In 2019, the Northern Territory Government invested in a feasibility study and business plan to explore the viability of a modern cotton industry NT. The study was commissioned by the NT Farmers Association (NTFA) and undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The study maps a clear pathway for a sustainable development model over the next decade. It is anticipated that up to 400,000 bales of cotton could be grown in the NT within the next decade.

The study, released yesterday, suggests that a sustainable cotton industry in the NT has the potential to contribute $200m to the NT economy. Paul Burke, NTFA Chief Executive Officer, explains that a local cotton processing facility (cotton gin) is required to achieve this scale of processing.

Cotton farming in the Territory has a long history, dating back to the early 1900’s. The Territory Government have invested in cotton research for many years including a period of intensive research in Katherine between 1993 and 2006.

In 2018, the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) recommenced research at the Katherine Research Station to enhance understanding of disease and pest resistance, yield and fibre quality of new cotton varieties and technologies to support industry viability assessments.

The Territory Government is committed to sustainable social, environmental and economic regional development opportunities, such as the development of a modern cotton industry.

Further development of a cropping sector based on cotton, and supported by a cotton gin, would bring significant growth opportunities for supply chains and associated transport and logistics within the Territory, while building capacity and strengthening the northern agricultural sector.

Read the PwC report on the Food Futures website.

Cotton

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