Consultation for vegetable strategic investment plan

Mila Bristow, Principal Research Scientist, Darwin

As part of the process for producing a new strategic investment plan for the vegetable industry, Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) and AusVeg met with growers and industry representatives at a workshop hosted at the NT Farmers Coolalinga office on Tuesday 8 November. The workshop allowed growers to have their say on where and how levy funding is spent.

The workshop began with introductions from HIA and AusVeg, describing how their organisations work before opening into a discussion on where the levy funding should be spent, the main challenges for growing vegetables in the Top End and what areas of research and development (R&D) growers would like to see investigated.

Some of the challenges to vegetable growing in the Top End that were discussed included:

  • changes in biosecurity—there have been significant changes to biosecurity and farm hygiene practices over the last five years. The new practices have increased costs for farmers but commodity prices have not increased, so profits are constrained
  • understanding export requirements—growers felt they need better interaction with export agencies and government to understand the protocols and market opportunities involved in exporting their products. The NT Government can help with this; if you want further information about export protocols, please visit http://micor.agriculture.gov.au/Plants/Pages/default.aspx

Also, we are currently seeking to engage with industry on the export of Asian vegetables and pumpkin (as well as melons) to Singapore and pumpkin to Japan. Please contact Michael Daysh, DPIR, at michael.daysh@nt.gov.au or 8999 2300 to discuss this further

  • labour—there is a greater need for more qualified people in all aspects of growers’ enterprises
  • water—growers are concerned about water security in the future. They would like to know how water will be managed if the vegetable industry is to expand in the future. There was also concern that metering water usage is the initial step to administering a cost on water

Some new R&D ideas offered from growers were:

  • new varieties of snake bean and okra—there is a need for new selections to improve productivity
  • soil health—growers would like to know more about the interaction of soil health with pest and disease. There was also concern for bore water nutrient composition and its impact on field grown vegetables and soil health
  • biosecurity—ongoing questions of market entry and biosecurity issues
  • hydroponics—growers are interested in how much water is required by a hydroponic system in the tropics and whether it is sustainable. They would also like more information on ideal management regimes for successfully growing hydroponic crops in the high temperatures of the Top End
  • pollinators—biosecurity issues of invasive pests threatening our pollinators; and what more do we need to do to maintain healthy pollinators

There is still time to have input and NT Farmers are calling on all vegetable growers and industry representatives to provide feedback about the challenges they face in the industry and the areas for R&D they are most interested in. Please contact Greg Owens, NT Farmers, on 0437 082 551.

Last updated: 19 December 2016