A guide to future expansion of the Gascoyne food bowl is being developed under a new master plan in the Western Australian Government’s Water for Food program.
The Gascoyne Food Bowl Initiative was set up in 2012 to increase horticultural production in the Carnarvon areas though new land and water resources.
WA Water Minister Mia Davies said the $40 million Water for Food program would fund and co-ordinate development of the Gascoyne Master Plan project as part of its $2.6 million Middle Gascoyne Groundwater investigation project.
“The plan will be developed by the departments of Water and Agriculture and Food, in consultation with other government agencies, and the Gascoyne Reference Group,” Ms Davies said.
Ms Davies said the master plan would include work already underway as part of the State Government’s response to water challenges identified by the Carnarvon Ministerial Advisory Committee.
“The proposed Gascoyne Master Plan will go beyond water investigations to focus on the horticultural and pastoral potential of the district.
“I have asked Parliamentary Secretary and North West Central MLA Vince Catania to chair the group, and former National Water Commission chairwoman Karlene Maywald to assist.”
Agriculture and Food Minister Dean Nalder said the master plan would harness the work of the Gascoyne Food Bowl Initiative into a bigger plan for lifting productivity in the existing irrigation footprint.
Mr Nalder said this provided new land release opportunities and innovative ideas for local food processing and value adding.
“The Gascoyne Master Plan will define market development strategies, export logistics requirements, and also look at ways to create uplift in the Gascoyne pastoral sectors,” Mr Nalder said.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the master plan project would align all current initiatives with the Gascoyne Regional Development Blueprint vision of expanding the existing 1,200 hectare horticultural area to 3,600ha over the next 35 years.
“This should see an annual horticultural production of $230 million and a regional workforce growing from 375 to 1,100, building a flourishing regional community.
“The aim is for pastoral production value to increase from $35 million to $60 million annually by identifying suitable groundwater for irrigated fodder production and intensive grazing,” Mr Redman said.