Australia’s Sunraysia region could be home to a new Almonds Centre of Excellence. Victorian Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh pledged A$12m (US$10.5m) to the construction of the facility, should his coalition government be re-elected at next month’s state election.
Walsh said the centre, which would be built on the fringes of Mildura, would be a world-class research and development (R&D) facility, dedicated entirely to almonds. It’s aim would be to boost productivity, profitability and competitiveness within the Australian industry, in a bid to ramp-up exports.
“A key action of the Victorian Coalition Government's A$100m (US$87m) Food to Asia Action Plan is better targetted R&D, extension and innovation, and the new Australian Almond Centre of Excellence is an example of the initiatives we will deliver as we aim to double food and fibre production by 2030 and get more Victorian produce to plates around the world,” Walsh explained.
Australia is the second largest almond producer in the world, with more than 70 per cent of the national crop grown in Victoria. In 2013/14, Victoria’s almond export trade was valued at A$366m (US$320m), accounting for 41 per cent of the state’s total horticulture exports. This represented a 167 per cent increase in value compared to the previous season.
“Almonds have been a major success story for Victoria's horticulture sector in recent years, with opportunities to expand into new markets driving strong export growth,” Walsh said.