More than 40 years after land rights and a quarter century after native title, three pilot projects in The Centre over four years starting in 2019/20 will identify opportunities and provide “a roadmap for development”. Meanwhile 350 km north of Alice Springs, a plantation at Ali Curung, once touted as a landmark Indigenous project, turned into a dismal failure but now produces 10,000 tonnes of watermelons (pictured) a year for an interstate lessee, relying mostly on labour from backpackers. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
There seems to be little spare water for uses other than supplying the town, at its present rate of consumption, according to the NT Government's Draft Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan 2013-2018. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Ali Curung watermelon plantation some 400 km north of Alice Springs – should horticulture draw water from the Amadeus basin?
The NT Government has slapped an information black-out on any details relating to the water supply of Alice Springs – and this includes answering questions about issues already on the public record. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Mining, transport, framing, art and culture – our future will depend on it. Editor ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with Deputy Opposition Leader Gerry McCarthy about Labor's view on diversification of our economy. PHOTO: Tennant Creek Clontarf Academy alumnus checks out Bootu Creek Mine. Will he join the FIFO workforce?
The local environmental lobby's draft "road map to a desert smart town" can be seen a wish list for the Federal elections, it but goes well beyond that focus – and could do with a robust reality check. In 2033 Alice Springs runs on 100% renewable energy? A local horticultural industry which supplies 50% of local fresh produce needs? And all that whilst not increasing water use beyond the current level? The Arid Lands Environment Centre's Jimmy Cocking (pictured at right with environmentalist and science journalist Tanya Ha at Friday's CoolMob gala dinner) and Mr McClean spoke with Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
A 30 to 60 year provision for "non-pastoral" use of land under pastoral lease has been described as "certainly very interesting" by the president of the NT Cattlemen's Association David Warriner.
"I don't understand what the finer detail is [but it seems to include] any agricultural, irrigation, potentially grain, could be melons – any agricultural and horticultural activity, could be timber," he says.
The changes were announced today by the Minister for Land Resource Management, Willem Westra van Holthe (pictured), as amendments to the Pastoral Land Act (PLA). ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Do we need the Army again to make large-scale farming in the Territory a reality once more?
The World War Two events described in the Alice Springs News story “After Darwin’s bombing, the Army made the desert bloom” sure seems to suggest it.
It was an era of huge population gyrations as the military moved in and out.
And the Army showed that some no-nonsense resolve can indeed make the desert bloom.
However, the army had "more farm workers than acres and no need to consider the cost of production”.
A botanist who provided technical advice for the army farms, warned that “the Northern Territory … is definitely not a land of milk and honey waiting to be tapped by the first agricultural adventurers".
While the Katherine region, headquarters for the army's 2 Farm Company, has gone on to be the focus of farm and horticultural production in the NT, Central Australian horticulture continues to languish. In this comment piece ALEX NELSON argues for the importance of a history of agricultural research and enterprise in Central Australia for us to understand why this is so. PHOTO above right: a great crop of silverbeet at Haasts Bluff Aboriginal community, mid last century. Courtesy Gross Collection – Strehlow Research Centre.
The Rocky Hill vineyard last year produced 1000 tonnes of table grapes. At $3 to $4 a kilogram that's worth $3m to $4m.
Undoolya Station produces 1000 tonnes of beef a year. At $1.50 to $1.80 a kilo that's worth $1.5m to $1.8m.
The grapes are grown on 70 hectares, the beef on 140,000 hectares.
Is there a message? Sure looks like it: go horticulture!
And we tried to find out why year after year, contract pickers and pruners have to be brought in from 2000 kms away while there are hundreds of unemployed people within 50 kms of Rocky Hill. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Ritchie Hayes is pictured at the Rocky Hill vineyard, south-east of Alice Springs.