North Queensland’s rainforest climate has been the perfect place to grow Australia’s bush foods for thousands of years, and now it will be hosting a national roadshow that will throw new light on their potential as a crop.
Thanks to financial support from a federal government farm cooperative pilot program called Farming Together, Malanda is the Queensland venue for the event delivering the message that Australian native food is on the cusp of major growth.
Over the last 10 years, Australian Native Food & Botanicals, in partnership with CSIRO, RIRDC and other research institutions, has worked to boost production, consumption and use of 14 priority native species, such as Kakadu Plum, Lemon and Anise myrtle, Mountain Pepper, Riberries, Quandong, Bush Tomato, Finger Limes and native citrus, Davidson Plum, Wattleseed and Muntries.
Their work has included nutritional analysis; indicating the health benefits, registering as traditional foods, flavour profiles and species fact sheets.
According to ANFAB chairwoman, Amanda Garner, there’s an unprecedented demand for items produced from Australian native species, but the industry now needs to expand to fulfill that demand.
The event at Malanda on September 3-4 isn’t just for the established grower but for people with a block of land they’d like to use but who aren’t sure of where to start or what the markets are.
“We will be offering the latest industry information – business models, value chain collaboration, quality assurance and logistical optimisation elements,” Amanda said. “And we will be integrating indigenous cultural knowledge.”
The potential for a range of species to provide nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products as well as food will be discussed, and people will be put in touch with wholesalers, processors, retailers and tourism operators via the industry network.
The peak industry body, ANFAB represents 200 growers and harvesters from around Australia, and has received $169,900 to roll out 10 roadshows in native food “hotspots”.
Beginning in Ballina, NSW, this week, it will be in Adelaide on September 1-2, and the Atherton Tableland on September 3-4, before moving to Broome, Port Headland and Alice Springs in October.
Perth, Darwin, and New Norfolk in Tasmania will host the event in November, finishing up in Melbourne next February.
“We’re going coast to coast to deliver the message of the marketplace,” Amanda said. “Supply and marketing are the elements we must address now.”
The national Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration pilot program is being delivered by Southern Cross University on behalf of the Australian government, and ANFAB is described as an example of the way Farming Together supports agriculture from the group upwards.
The program is farmer-driven and has attracted unprecedented levels of engagement. In barely 10 months it has had interaction with 16,000 farmers, fishers and foresters across the country and across many commodity groups.