Winter is over and again we enter the  spring and summer without any rain. We, of course, are not alone as large areas  of the eastern states are gripped by crippling drought. This has led to an  Australian wide increase in slaughter rates as pastoralists de-stock with the  subsequent decrease in the national herd. The extra supply to abattoirs has not  led to price drops, as any surplus has been absorbed by strong overseas markets  buoyed by a weak Australian dollar.

Our pastoral production team can assist  in making objective decisions on stocking rates in these difficult times to  maximise long term production and to drought proof your property. Recovery of  rangelands when rain finally does come is probably just as important as making  the most of the feed that is now present, and our professionals can offer  excellent advice in this area.

Budburst is currently underway in the  table grape farms at Ti Tree and Alice Springs, the hope is for a frost free  time between now and November as this is what all the growers require. Like  cattle, the table grape industry has been held up by strong export markets that  balances out supply ensuring our growers can make a fair return on all the hard  work they do and risks that they endure.

Our department recently commissioned Ernst  and Young to assess the commercial potential and market for bush foods in  Central Australia. Although not a huge market at present, it does provide  supplementary income for hundreds of Aboriginal people, mostly women, living in  remote communities in our region. The report found that unlike the beef and  grape industries, demand outstrips supply. It is my firm belief that this  industry is ripe for entrepreneurial investment in the next decade to the point  where consumption of native, Australian flora and its products will be  commonplace.

For our department, we are reaching the  end of our tenure in the middle of “town”, and will be moving back to AZRI this  month. We will be having a re-opening and celebration of AZRI’s 50th  anniversary on the Friday 16 November at the AZRI social club from 3pm. You are  all invited and I hope you can make it. Please contact Michelle Lord on  89518111 or michelle.lord@nt.gov.au.

Stuart Smith
Regional Director – Southern Region

Last updated: 30 April 2020

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