Water & Climate

Future Drought Fund: Creating drought resilient crops in the NT

Through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund Northern Territory farmers from Central Australia to Katherine are being invited to take part in trials of a drought resilient crop.

Minister For Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud said the 12-month trial would investigate the potential for agave as a low or no irrigation crop in Central Australia and Katherine.

“Agave is a crop that has the potential to be used for syrups, spirits, fibre and fodder which takes 6 to 8 years to mature,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This Australian Government has provided $197,000 to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade to deliver this project to improve the natural capital and contribute towards landscape-scale drought resilience.

“This trial marks the first stage of an investigation into the possibility of agave as a commercially viable crop in the Territory.

“The 3 varieties of agave will be grown on Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade research farms as part of a research project into water usage and farm income diversification.

“The project will test their growth potential and identify the varieties best suited to the NT and if it could become a commercially viable crop for farmers looking to diversify.”

Northern Territory Minister for Agribusiness and Aquaculture, Nicole Manison said the Northern Territory Government was dedicated to supporting the agribusiness industry through research to help farmers to improve business diversification and climate adaptation.

“While the Top End can experience record rainfalls during the wet season, that’s not the case for Central Australian growers who know they need to be more strategic about their water resources,” Minister Manison said.

“Agave is a crop that requires no to low irrigation, making it a potentially ideal plant for the drier growing climate south of Katherine.

“We know that an investment in our farmers is an investment in our future, and we’re looking to provide the industry with the support they need to ensure they have commercially viable crops.

“I’d urge growers who are interested in the outcome of this trial to take part in it and see the results for themselves.

“Territory farmers are encouraged to participate in the small-scale trials which are due to begin early next year. The growers will be supplied with 30 free plants to trial on farm as part of the project.”

Territory farmers who want to take part in the trial are able to register their interest by Friday, 1 October 2021 after checking their eligibility through the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade website: Plant industries development – Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

For more information about the Future Drought Fund visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund

Source: Australian Government