Kununurra set to become home to one of Australia’s biggest rice crops

Posted by Josette Dunn on 9th July 2010

Farmers in the Ord region are preparing to harvest Western Australia’s first commercial rice crop in more than 27 years.The Ord River irrigation area rice crops in the East Kimberley were planted by growers associated with Australian rice food company SunRice. The crops were planted between March and April this year and the current harvest is expected to deliver between eight to 10 tonnes per hectare of rice.

Regional Development and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls was in Kununurra to watch the harvest operations and said it was an exciting time for farmers in the region.

It was envisaged up to 1,000ha of rice could be planted next year as the emerging rice industry bulked up in the lead-up to the release of the new agricultural blocks as part of the Ord-East Kimberley expansion project.

Mr Grylls said existing silos located in Kununurra would be used to store the rice so it could dry before it was bagged and exported overseas from Wyndham.

“Work has already started on the development of 19km of arterial irrigation channel and 14km of road as part of the State Government’s Royalties for Regions $220million investment to expand the Ord-East Kimberley region,” he said

Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman said rice had the potential to be a major cash crop for the Ord region.

“More than half the people in the world eat rice at least once a day,” Mr Redman said.

“The Ord Scheme with its secure water source and more reliable climate is ideally placed to assist the Australian rice industry continue to be a supplier of world quality rice, given the challenges of declining water allocations in Eastern Australia.”

Mr Grylls said the Federal Government was providing $195million for the East Kimberley Development Package for community infrastructure and services works.

“The State Government’s vision is to turn the Ord River into a world-class agricultural precinct and with this rice harvest we can see an exciting future for the region,” he said.