Unique training program
Kimberley bush fruit has become a class act for students taking part in a training program designed to support the emerging industry.
The Connecting with Country program offered through the North Regional TAFE this month offers skills in propagating a range of high-value local bush tucker, including gubinge.
It follows the establishment of a pilot plantation at Ngalingkadji Community in the Fitzroy Valley late last year and an expansion of an existing plantation at Bidyadanga community, 190km south of Broome, with more than 200 of the “super-fruit” trees.
The Bidyadanga plantation has produced commercial quantities of fruit for the past three years but this year’s crop was depleted by storms and heavy rain just before harvest.
NRT horticulture lecturer Kim Courtenay has co-ordinated the gubinge cultivation methods and trials and is delivering the latest student program.
He said it was an exciting time for the bush-food industry after a trial plot at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s research facility at Carnarvon produced more than 200kg of gubinge from 25 trees that were donated by NRT’s Broome campus seven years ago.
“The success of the trial in Carnarvon demonstrates that gubinge will grow across a wide area of the State," Mr Courtenay said. “This should encourage support for a local industry, following recent news that plantations have been established overseas.”
NRT Broome training manager Jeffrey Cooper said as well as covering skills and knowledge to grow innovative new species, the Connecting with Country program would cover contemporary land management, propagation and irrigation techniques.
“The program will provide students with an edge in establishing sustainable produce in local conditions,” he said.
“It would also include a prescribed burning exercise at NRT’s Balu Buru site at 12 Mile (near Broome) providing an insight into the huge difference traditional-style controlled burning has on country.”