Lease paves way for West Kimberley horticulture project

Written on the 1 December 2016

Another innovative horticulture project in the West Kimberley is set to come alive following a landmark lease agreement between Water Corporation and the Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation (MAC).

The agreement will soon see more than 600 hectares of State Government land at Broome leased at no cost to the Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation (MAC).

Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Dave Grills MLC welcomed today's announcement that more than 600 hectares of State Government land near Broome would be leased at no cost to establish a native fruit tree orchard.

"This is an excellent initiative and I'm really pleased to see the MAC work together with the Water Corporation to develop local projects like this," Mr Grills said.

"This ingenious project will help create employment, generate new economic opportunities and provide benefits to Aboriginal people in the region."

Mr Grills said the MAC planned to establish an orchard of native fruit trees to supply international and domestic markets with functional foods, nutritional supplements and ingredients for cosmetic products.

"This is an exciting project that is paving the way for a new industry which includes producing native foods and using traditional and modern horticulture techniques that are chemical free, water efficient and environmentally sustainable," he said.

"One of the first fruit trees to be planted on site is the gubinge - a native fruit called the Kakadu plum, common in northern Australia and in demand for its health properties."

Nationals WA candidate for the Kimberley Rob Houston said the Water Corporation joined forces with the MAC earlier this year, to establish thousands of native trees, irrigated with recycled water from the Broome North Wastewater Treatment Plant.

"I'm really supportive of this latest project as it has so many elements to it, and it will provide various community benefits," Mr Houston said.

"These native trees will also assist with environmental conservation in the region as they will provide seeds for land restoration programs in the Kimberley.

"I'm pleased this program is also generating important training and employment opportunities for the local Aboriginal community."

The native tree project at the Broome North Wastewater Treatment Plant was recently recognised as a 2016 WA Regional Achievement and Community Awards finalist in two categories; Sustainability and Agricultural Innovation.

By 2018, about 10,000 fruit trees are expected to be established across 25 hectares. The land will be leased to MAC at no cost for the first few years, and the agreement will be revisited once the operation becomes commercially viable.

Source: Media Release, Dave Grills

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