QUEENSLAND looks set to double its avocado production and smash the global shortage, thanks to more than half a million dollars in funding from the state government.
The sunshine state produces 50 percent of Australia’s high-value avocado crops, injecting around $460 million into the state’s economy every year.
It is estimated that a world first innovative plant growing technique will help Queensland avocado farmers double their production to 70,000 tonnes a year.
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The Queensland-owned, secret tissue-culture system can create 500 new avocado plants from a single cutting in eight to ten months, compared to the 12-18 months currently needed to produce just one plant.
The project has received a $636,000 grant through the second round of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.
Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch today predicted the initial ‘matched’ investment of less than $1.5 million could return $335 million a year for the state’s economy across the production and supply chain.
“The project between The University of Queensland and industry partners to develop this Queensland-owned world-first technology to tackle the global shortage of avocado trees is a terrific example of the powerful and profitable outcomes achieved when researchers, industry players, and entrepreneurs come together with a common purpose,” Ms Enoch said.
“It has the potential to generate new jobs, from the number of people growing and picking the fruit right through the line to those transporting, packing and processing the fruit.
“This world-leading, Queensland-owned technology will overcome the bottleneck of a shortage of high-quality planting material that is currently crippling industry expansion.
“Conservative estimates predict Queensland avocado farmers will be able to double production to 70,000 tonnes a year creating industry growth and jobs in the region.”
Professor Neena Mitter, from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland, said the grant would enable researchers and industry partners to launch field trials next year.
“There are Queensland farmers who want to expand their avocado orchards, and entrepreneurs who want to enter the avocado farming industry, but they cannot get source plants to grow because of a global shortage of trees,” Professor Mitter said.
“Our Queensland-owned, trade-secret tissue-culture system takes a single cutting and can create 500 new plants in eight to ten months, compared to the current system that typically takes up to 12-18 months to produce one plant from a cutting.
“Receiving the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships grant, and working together with our industry partners, we will be able to take our innovation to the next stage of field trials in areas including Tully and Bundaberg,” she said.
Ms Enoch said the Innovation Partnerships program had allocated $17.73 million in the past two years to collaborative programs between research organisations and industry partners that would have major outcomes for Queenslanders.
She said the Palaszczuk Government allocated $7.82 million in this round of the grants to nine collaborative partnerships, with the industry project partners co-investing a further $8.36 million.
Advance Queensland is the Palaszczuk Government’s $420 million whole-of-government initiative, supporting jobs across a range of industry sectors.