Co-investment funding scheme

As a part of the High Value Horticulture Value Chains for the Queensland Murray Darling Basin (QMDB) project, the purpose of the co-investment funding scheme was to support initiatives that encourage sustainable economic development in regional communities likely to be affected by the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Murray Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program co-investment funding scheme was designed to provide direct financial support to farm and post farm gate businesses to enable the development of new high value horticultural value chains.

Co-investment funding of $1.65 million was made available and delivered over 4 rounds to support businesses to establish new horticultural value chains in the QMDB.

Grant funding to support businesses

A total of 24 projects were successful in securing co-investment funding grants across the QMDB. The successful projects generated an approximate extra $6 million in economic activity and created an estimated 75 direct jobs through the region, assisting local businesses adjust to a situation of reduced water allocation and establishing alternative cropping systems with the potential to generate higher value earnings per hectare.

Co-funding projects

Early season stone fruit production - supported the transition from a mid-season producer of peaches and nectarines, to an early-season producer of peaches and nectarines together with exclusive, high-value black plums.

Rapid cooling system - installed a rapid cooling system on farm to remove the field heat from the picked fruit increasing the shelf life of the fruit and allow for control of a market program.

Blueberry production - assessed the commercial viability of new varieties of non-deciduous blueberries in the St George region.

Citrus production - supported the diversification into a mixed citrus-growing operation of seedless Afourer mandarins for export markets, Tahitian limes and Australian native limes as an opportunity crop for either domestic or export markets.

Garlic production - developed and built suitable infrastructure to plant, store and process commercial volumes of garlic for commercial supply and seed production.

Early season stone fruit frost protection - installed an overhead irrigation system to ensure production in early season varieties of stone fruit are not impacted by frost at flowering time.

Pomegranates commercial viability - assessed the commercial viability of producing pomegranate products in the St George region.

Pumpkin seeds (pepita) production - implementation and development of a new high-value horticultural production system by growing pumpkins for the production of pumpkin seed and pumpkin seed oil for the confectionary and health food markets.

Vegetable production - provided capacity to transition existing pumpkin production from domestic supply to an export market focus.

Inglewood produce service centre - developed an Inglewood Produce Service Centre with a hydro/vacuum cooling system, to provide the required services to move locally grown produce to a marketable product and through to market.

Low chill cherries - redeveloped an area of current production into a high-density orchard of early season sweet cherries.

Garlic production - developed and built suitable infrastructure to plant, store and process commercial volumes of garlic for commercial supply and seed production.

Hydroponics - established a hydroponic organic vegetable production operation and supply.

Garlic production - developed a garlic production system through a staged program of expansion and the introduction of mechanisation for both planting and harvesting.

Nursery expansion - assisted with increasing efficiencies and scale for an existing tree nursery operation and allowed expansion of business to improve sustainability and to develop as a prominent supplier to commercial orchards.

Jujubes production - developed a high-density jujube orchard for domestic and export markets, and branding and website for the jujubes to value-add products for a higher return.

Vegetable production - developed a diverse range of crops that have export potential and provided custom horticultural services to growers within the region.

Vegetable production and hydro/vacuum cooling system - capitalised on the growth opportunities through the installation of a hydro/vacuum cooling system at the Inglewood site. The hydro/vacuum cooling provided improved shelf-life and product quality and widened the scope of products grown in the Inglewood-Texas area for export.

AgTech – weather station - installed a state-of-the-art WeatherMaster 3000 weather station in the Inglewood district, providing producers in the region with access to improved weather data. All live and historic weather data is accessed via the WeatherMation Live Service by mobile phones, laptop and desktop computers.

Sub-surface irrigation system - implemented a more efficient sub-surface irrigation system that has led to an expansion of the irrigated horticulture crop and increased production. The sub-surface irrigation system saves water through irrigating from underground reducing evaporation and promoting water and nutrient uptake.

Pecan production - developed a high-density pecan orchard for domestic and export markets, using an automated irrigation system with water saving irrigation infrastructure for efficiency.

Jujubes and fig production expansion - expanded a jujubes and fig orchard to increase production, through the installation of a more efficient automated irrigation and fertigation system, bird and insect proof netting and vermin proof fencing and improved sorting, sizing, labelling and packing systems and equipment.

Organic seed production value adding - implemented more efficient plant and equipment and a new e-commerce/website shop platform to allow for on-farm processing and packaging of organic seed crops (e.g. chickpeas, lentils etc) and improve sales.

Garlic and onion production value adding - implemented value-adding plant and equipment, trademark registration, design and development of logos and packaging, market development and a new e-commerce/website shop platform for the development and commercialisation of new shelf-life-stable products.