Big year tipped for re­gion

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Holly Thomp­son

The South­ern Forests Food Coun­cil has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate $35.1 mil­lion in Gross Re­gional Prod­uct and sup­port 190 jobs in the re­gion by 2021-22, ac­cord­ing to an eco­nomic im­pact as­sess­ment.

Coun­cil chair­woman Mon­ica Radomil­jac said there was a lot go­ing on this year to help make this goal achiev­able.

“It has taken a while to get our ducks in a row but now they are lined up and we are ready to go,” Ms Radomil­jac said.

“One main thing we have done is launched a paid mem­ber­ship in or­der to be­come sus­tain­able into the fu­ture, which has led to more ben­e­fits for them as well.”

She said this year com­pa­nies out­side the re­gion would also be in­cluded and pro­duce from farms would go straight to lo­cal IGAs.

“We have also started a Gen­uinely WA brand for the ex­port mar­ket which is start­ing to be recog­nised in the Asian coun­tries we ex­port to,” she said.

“We are aim­ing to sup­port lo­cal farm­ers more than ever this year be­cause we have more part­ners now, both in the State and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

Ms Radomil­jac said the coun­cil was also tri­alling farm tours, with 40 farm­ers en­gaged so far.

“The plan is to cre­ate in­di­vid­ual and spe­cialised tours which in­clude things like cook­ing les­sons with lo­cal pro­duce and more this year,” she said.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Be­van Eatts will be step­ping down from his role but said there was po­ten­tial to de­velop the coun­cil’s sup­ply net­work over the com­ing year.

“I have been in­volved since the coun­cil’s in­cep­tion and I think we have built some­thing to be proud of,” he said.

“When we first started no one recog­nised the re­gion as a food bowl and now we have been able to build the brand so that up to 40 per cent of the metropoli­tan area recog­nises the South­ern Forests brand and knows what the area sup­plies.”

He said it had sup­ply part­ner­ships set up through this work which would con­tinue in 2019.

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