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Australia: Producers call for more local organic research

South West organic farmers are calling for a proposed organic research centre to be based in Manjimup, rather than Bunbury. Last election the National Party promised $5 million dollars to be put towards a state-of-the-art organic food research facility in Bunbury to help expand the state's organic food industry.

But the Southern Forests Food Council says it would be better off in Manjimup, to link with the existing horticulture research centre and the cluster of organic growers in that area.

The organic food industry is growing at an alarming rate. The national grower body Australian Certified Organic now estimates the farm gate value of organics in WA to be almost $20 million, with the retail value more than $100 million.

Wayne Edwards has been growing organic produce in Manjimup for 14 years.

"Having feedback, having more awareness of what sustainability is all about and the agriculture department would be the primary place for people to get information and direction.

"The Government should be behind this."

Mr Edwards says the research centre would be better off in a 'food bowl' like Manjimup.

"Manjimup is well situated with its water resources where there's plenty of avenues for organic development.

"Farming is a real community business and I think there are a lot of people that would like to use less chemicals and more soil friendly fertilisers and are not really sure how to do it and I just think that all agriculture department centres should have some sort of organics in there to give people options."

A spokesperson for Minister for Regional Development Brendon Grylls told the Southern Forest Food Council that the proposed Organic Food Industry Research Centre remained 'a priority' for the State Government, although specific decisions about the centre were 'still being considered.'

The Department of Agriculture and Food does a wide range of work that is relevant to organic and conventional producers including resource risk management, biosecurity, irrigation efficiency, market development, plant breeding, integrated pest management and animal welfare.

Source: ABC News
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