“Irrigated agriculture projects will provide an opportunity to use the natural advantages of the Pilbara to expand regional production and increase both domestic opportunities and exports options in a range of new high value agrifoods into South East Asia and other markets.”
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With considerable mine dewater and ground water sources, vast amounts of sunlight and fertile soils, the region is in a strong position to utilise existing bulk export infrastructure and investment links with Asia to service global food markets.
Rangeland beef production is the dominant agricultural activity in the region with an output of more than $46 million per annum. The Pilbara’s current agricultural production consists primarily of beef cattle production for live export.
Opportunities to expand the existing industry to include new infrastructure and value-added products, such as holding yards, truck wash down facilities, irrigated mosaic agriculture and backgrounding options including a palletisation plant. These opportunities would not only support new and expanded markets but also create more industry employment options within the Pilbara.
The Pilbara region is designated Bluetongue Virus free zone providing a natural advantage for live exports.
At the same time, opportunities to diversify the region’s food production to supply fresh produce to Asian markets and feedstock to regional customers would see the Pilbara reach its full food-producing potential.
Growth of the Pilbara’s agriculture industry has the potential to diversify the region’s economy, provide a local supply of fresh produce, and attract international investment, making it a key part of realising the region’s vision for 2050. The Commission is working in partnership with government, industry and business to achieve a number of strategic objectives that aim to unlock the Pilbara’s potential in agriculture and make the 2050 vision a reality.
Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative
The Pilbara is one of the most resource-rich regions in Australia, however the significant potential to develop a sustainable agriculture sector is still be realised. This initiative will assess the potential of irrigated agriculture in the Pilbara utilising surplus mine dewater and other in-situ water resources, and deliver high-impact research outcomes to assist future development decisions by government and industry.
Pilbara beef infrastructure studies
The Commission is conducting two studies to investigate the export infrastructure required to expand the region’s beef industry. Funded by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development through the Northern Beef Futures program, the studies are assessing both the feasibility, and identifying site options for, a truck wash-down facility and cattle holding yard near the port of Port Hedland. The studies are part of the Commission’s economic diversification strategy to support pastoralists, drive new investment opportunities and enable local job creation in the region.
Pilbara Mesquite Management Trial
The project will trial new technology to assess the economic feasibility of harvesting mesquite to produce organic compost for environmental rehabilitation. Mesquite is an invasive weed that is having a negative impact on the region’s biodiversity. A successful trial could result in a new harvesting and composting industry in the Pilbara.