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Five varieties of the spice of life in Northern Australia trial

12 August 2019

A new project will test if Northern Australia has the potential to step into the global spice trade worth $12 billion annually.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said a $1.2 million research project funded through the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) would lay the foundation for a new, high-value broadacre condiment industry in Northern Australia.

If successful, it may lead to Australian growers being able to meet domestic demand and explore export opportunities.

“The project is going to involve a number of small field trials being run in Queensland and the Northern Territory to test the performance of five spice crops: cumin, caraway, black sesame, kalonji and fennel,” Minister Canavan said.

“Trials are going to be run in Rockhampton, Biloela, Burdekin and Tully in Queensland, and Katherine and Darwin in the Northern Territory.

“Each of these regions have already carved out a reputation for producing quality niche crop products and I look forward to seeing a little spice added to the mix.

“The project will run for three years and will assess the market, supply and agronomic systems needed for Northern Australian farmers to adopt these spice crops.

“This is a great opportunity to see if there is potential for Northern Australian growers to move to wide-scale commercial spice production and secure their share of the growing global spice trade.

“It is thought the project will generate around $8.4 million in economic activity by the end of the third year, including about $1.2 million in income at farm gate level. If it takes off, there’s a great opportunity for us to replace imported product and potentially generate exports.”

The project will move to commercial trials in its final year, when there will also be a manual available to producers, detailing which crops to grow, the best areas to grow them and an outline of the market and supply chain opportunities.

The CRCNA project team includes seed and crop experts, irrigation and agronomist specialists, economic development experts, agronomists and six growers.

The project is being led by Dr Surya Bhattarai of CQUniversity. The project team also includes Agriventis Technologies, the Burdekin-Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BBIFMAC), Rockhampton Regional Council, the NT Department of Primary Industry Resources, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and six growers.

Media contact: Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180