New zones aid kangaroo industry

New zones aid kangaroo industry

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BOOMING TREND: Macro Group managing director Ray Borda say kangaroo markets have been hit, but there was potential to build retail.

BOOMING TREND: Macro Group managing director Ray Borda say kangaroo markets have been hit, but there was potential to build retail.

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TWELVE months on from the proposed expansion of commercial kangaroo harvest areas and the idea is considered a success, even as the industry takes a hit from COVID-19.

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TWELVE months on from the proposed expansion of commercial kangaroo harvest areas and the idea is considered a success, even as the industry takes a hit from COVID-19.

Macro Group managing director Ray Borda says his company has put several new chiller boxes into the new zones in the South East, Yorke Peninsula and Fleurieu Peninsula to meet the demand.

He said the only new area where harvesters were not operating was on Kangaroo Island, with the bushfires impacting quota numbers.

Mr Borda said in the past 12 months, an additional 10 kangaroo harvesters had joined the industry - an increase of about 20 per cent - all in new areas.

"It helps with the pressure on the land," he said.

Mr Borda said it was timely, with signals the improved season in many areas could lead to a kangaroo population boom.

He said many kangaroos had stopped breeding during the drought, but with more feed about, some had been spotted with twins.

"That's normally a good indication the conditions are improving," he said.

"We need to get infrastructure in place now. Last time, when kangaroos were in high density, industry wasn't prepared, but the new zones will help that."

Mr Borda said many processors had taken a hit in recent months, with exports halted and the hospitality industry largely shut down.

"I expect it to be at least 12 months before the export market recovers to resemble what it used to be," he said.

He said one area that had potential was the retail and supermarket trade.

"A lot of people have been reintroduced to cooking at home, the challenge will be changing to meet this," he said.

Mr Borda said processors were struggling, but were still trying to ensure the harvesters were getting good returns.

"For processors, it's an investment in the future," he said.

Kangaroo Management Reference Group field processor representative Chad Cowin, Laura, said conditions for harvesters had improved somewhat in the past six months.

"Early this year we did see kangaroo prices go up, with some processors paying up to $1.20 a kilogram," he said.

"Couple this with fuel prices dropping, we did see a chance to increase our margins somewhat."

But he said with kangaroo prices taking a hit and diesel prices starting to rise again, "the good times didn't last for long".

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Also 12 months ago, a $25,000 state government pilot program to help provide drought-affected landholders in the Far West and Far North regions by training and licensing them as kangaroo harvesters was proposed.

Livestock SA executive officer Andrew Curtis said the program had been difficult to initiate, first with the severity of the drought, then the coronavirus outbreak.

He said meetings had been held on the West Coast and at Hawker, but many of those who expressed an interest on the Eyre Peninsula had returned to farming after recent rain.

"We're in the process of working with the government to see what happens next," he said.

Mr Curtis said the new zones were a positive, with kangaroo numbers able to be controlled with commercial harvest permits rather than destruction permits.

In recent weeks the Department of Environment and Water has been holding its annual survey of kangaroo numbers to determine the quotas.

DEW spokesperson Anthony Freebairn said this year, for the first time, the figures would include a combination of aerial survey data and predictive population models based on long-term survey data and climatic models.

"Using models to predict population numbers for some harvest subregions where we have long-term data will enable the survey team to concentrate their efforts on the newly opened harvest areas," he said.

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