A large asparagus project in the Kimberley has been delayed once again after a key player sold his stake
A large-scale Kimberley horticulture project endorsed by the State Government more than two years ago has been delayed after a major player sold his stake and the new owners submitted revised plans.
Ginmore Holdings-owned Kimberley Asparagus — an alliance between pumpkin grower Russell “Rusty” Dredge and the Fresh Produce Group — was in June 2016 unveiled as the successful candidate for the Skuthorpe horticultural area, 23km east of Broome.
At the time, former lands minister Terry Redman said Kimberley Asparagus had been chosen because of its vision for expanding regional horticultural opportunities by supplying domestic and international markets with quality produce.
He said the prospective economic benefits for WA and the Kimberley were significant.
The operation was expected to create up to 55 jobs, with the first asparagus harvest due last year.
The delay comes after the Fresh Produce Group recently purchased Ginmore’s shares, making it the sole owner of Kimberley Asparagus.
Mr Dredge has subsequently resigned as director of Kimberley Asparagus.
The original development plan submitted to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for at least 100ha of asparagus has now been been revised in light of anticipated water availability to include table grapes as well. Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said under the terms of the agreement, Kimberley Asparagus would be granted a four-year development lease, and then freehold and long-term lease tenures, over the area once it satisfies a range of conditions.
“These conditions include the delivery of a development plan, securing approvals and consulting with the Yawuru traditional owners,” Ms MacTiernan said.
Kimberley Asparagus must provide required documentation to the DPLH to enable the grant of a development lease over five of the lots fronting Broome Road. She said Kimberley Asparagus received a clearing permit in November last year to clear those and was also on track to be granted a water licence to supply water to the lots.
“The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Kimberley team have worked with Kimberley Asparagus to ensure the development plan only includes high-value crops like asparagus and table grapes, and does not include melons and pumpkins,” Ms MacTiernan said.
The development plan has now been submitted to the DPLH.
Broome farmer Russell "Rusty" Dredge resigned as a director of Kimberley Asparagus after Fresh Produce Group purchased Ginmore Holdings.