Vegetable saga

A large as­para­gus project in the Kim­ber­ley has been de­layed once again af­ter a key player sold his stake

Broome Advertiser - - Front Page - Glenn Cord­ing­ley

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.

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