The Minister for Resources Matt Canavan has said the Northern Territory could be on its way to becoming Asia's salad bowl with a new investigation into growing protected cropping systems.
The Northern Territory will be included with Western Australia and Queensland in a two year trial investigation, in a bid to boost the fastest growing food producing sector in Australia.
"Large scale undercover cropping systems means growers can beat the heat, beat the insects and beat extreme weather," Minister Canavan said.
"Setting them up can be expensive, but the benefits of being able to reliably supply high quality produce into Asia's large consumer markets is a big incentive to take them up."
He said a broader takeup of protected cropping in the north would mean increased reliability in supplying a greater range of product for export and more jobs in local communities.
Around $443,000 will be invested in the project, backed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia.
"The CRC Program continues to go from strength to strength and it proves the power of collaboration, in bringing together industry and researchers to achieve excellent outcomes," Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said.
"There are at least 15 CRCNA projects underway which are looking at how we develop, diversify, expand and broaden agricultural pursuits across northern Australia.
"With protected cropping being the fastest growing food producing sector in Australia, with a farm-gate value of around $1.8 billion each year, it makes good sense to look at how we expand its use in northern Australia."
The move comes as plans to grow a new condiment industry take shape in the NT.
University researchers intend to run small trials of cumin, fennel, kalonji, caraway and black sesame crops, after earlier glasshouse trials showed they had strong potential for inclusion in broadacre crop rotations.
The $1.2 million spice cropping project will see five crops taken from small to large-scale production.
CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the project would provide the foundation for a new, high-value industry with the potential to transform northern agribusinesses.
"This project will build the supply chain links needed to establish a new and viable industry for northern Australia and create new income streams for producers."
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