Life is about to get a lot more spicy in Katherine over the next few years.
The town's agricultural research station has been chosen to test some more new crops hoping to build a new condiment industry in northern Australia.
Initial trials will test cumin, fennel, kalonji, caraway and black sesame crops.
It is hoped these spice crops will be able to provide the "break" in other broadacre crop rotations.
Apparently there are "expressions of interest" already from Turkey and Korean food processing companies.
It is all part of a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia project, headed by Dr Surya Bhattarai from Central Queensland University.
The $1.2 million spice cropping project will see five crops taken from small to large-scale production within three years.
The project team spans seed and crop experts from agronomists from the NT Department of Primary Industry Resources, Agriventis Technologies, irrigation and agronomist specialists from the Burdekin-Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee, economic development experts from the Rockhampton Regional Council, and the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development as well as six growers from across Queensland and the NT.
Earlier glasshouse trials of the selected spices showed they had strong potential for inclusion in broadacre crop rotations.
The small trials will be across several different locations and used to assess the suitability of crops for wide-scale commercial production in northern Australia.
In the NT, trials will be located at Katherine Research Station, and Coastal Plains Research Station.
Rain-fed black sesame and fennel trials are scheduled for planting by the end of this year, with a field walk planned for April 2020.
Commercial trials are due to start in the project's third and final year, by which time there will be a comprehensive manual for producers detailing which crops to grow, the best areas to grow them and an outline of the market and supply chain opportunities.
Earlier this year, 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."
A high-value broadacre condiment industry in northern Australia could replace imports and generate exports to Asia and the Middle East and see northern producers secure their share of the growing global spice trade - estimated to be worth around $12 billion annually."
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