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$638,000 Australian Government boost for Queensland agribusiness.



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AFFA03/324WT - 6 November 2003

$638,000 Australian Government boost for Queensland agribusiness

Nine Queensland agribusinesses are among 37 Australia-wide to receive grants and scholarships totalling $2.5 million under the Australian Government's New Industries Development Program (NIDP), Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

Mr Truss said the NIDP, which is administered by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is a key element of the Government's Backing Australia's Ability initiative.

"Today's awards are funded under the NIDP's In-Market Experience Scholarship and Pilot Commercialisation Project (PCP) schemes, and will help build the management skills of some of the leading innovators in Australian agribusiness," Mr Truss said.

"Some of the successful projects in Queensland include Hervey Bay-based Organic Foods of Australia, which is receiving a $110,000 PCP grant to commercialise a production line for frozen, organic vegetables.

"Boonah-based Bunjurgen Pty Ltd, trading as Bunny Bite Farms, will use its $99,000 PCP grant to commercialise a range of customised curry sauces for the Japanese market based on the Japanese (Kabocha) pumpkin.

"Atherton-based Wilkinsons Blacksmiths is receiving a $30,800 scholarship to help commercialise an advanced, horizontal roto-cultivator, which substantially reduces water loss, hydrocarbon emissions and operating costs.

"While Caloundra-based Seafood Directions, has received a $31,712 scholarship to produce value-added redclaw crayfish products for the domestic and overseas markets.

"85 pilot commercialisation projects and 41 scholarships have been funded under the expanded NIDP - demonstrating a clear commitment by the Coalition Government to help Australian agribusiness capture new market opportunities," Mr Truss said.

Mr Truss congratulated all the recipients, saying the wide range of initiatives being funded under the NIDP highlights the increasing diversification and innovation taking place in Australian agribusiness.

The next round of PCP funding closes on 23 January 2004. For further information, including guidelines and application forms, visit www.affa.gov.au/agribiz or call 1300 884 588 (for the cost of the local call).

Details on the nine Queensland agribusinesses receiving scholarships and PCP funding today are attached. For a full list of recipients Australia-wide,

or additional information on the NIDP, please call the Program's Manager, Naomi Ashurst on (02) 6272 3785.

Queensland recipients of In-Market Experience Scholarships and PCP grants

In-Market Experience Scholarships (all amounts include GST)

Recipient: Seafood Directions. Location: Caloundra. Amount: $31,712. Seafood Directions is looking to consolidate a local grower cooperative, by producing value?added redclaw crayfish products for the domestic and overseas markets. The $31,712 scholarship will help Seafood Directions' Craig Winkel gain a better understanding of market requirements and the necessary quality systems. He will also undertake in-market visits, develop processing requirements and attend marketing courses. Contact: Craig Winkel seafooddirections@powerup.com.au or (07) 5492 3812.

Recipient: Cameron Livestock. Location: Toowoomba. Amount: $32,890. Will Cameron, Cameron Livestock's Marketing Manager, will use his scholarship to help boost the prices Australian-based producers of the Japanese cattle breed, Wagyu, receive for their products. Will's Scholarship involves meeting the producers to determine current and future supply requirements. He then plans to meet potential customers in Japan and arrange some trial shipments. Negotiating long-term relationships with the Japanese market is the project's ultimate goal. Contact: Will Cameron cameronlivestock@bigpond.com or (07) 4636 5520.

Recipient: SP Exports. Location: Childers. Amount: $33,000. SP Exports, one of Queensland's major tomato producers, is looking to commercialise a new, near-fresh, shelf-stable tomato product for the domestic and international markets. The scholarship winner, Andrew McKillop, wants to examine potential markets, and the latest packaging, benchmarking, food processing and preservation techniques. Andrew will also visit markets in Japan and Korea, as well as undertake courses in business management and product commercialisation. Contact: Andrew McKillop andrewm@spexports.com.au or (07) 4126 4600.

Recipient: Wilkinsons Blacksmiths. Location: Atherton. Amount: $30,800. John Wilkinson, of Wilkinsons Blacksmiths, will use his $30,800 scholarship to help commercialise a technologically advanced, horizontal roto-cultivator, which improves soil structure by incorporating organic matter and also substantially reduces water loss, hydrocarbon emissions and operating costs. John will also participate in a product-marketing course not available in his region, and visit events in key domestic and overseas markets, such as the World Expo in Tulare, California. Contact: John Wilkinson hse@wilkinsons.com.au or (07) 4051 1833.

Pilot Commercialisation Project grants (all amounts include GST)

Recipient: Organic Foods of Australia. Location: Hervey Bay. PCP grant: $110,000.

Organic Foods of Australia will receive a grant of $110,000 to help commercialise a production line for frozen, organic vegetables. The funding will be used for a range of activities, including buying equipment for the processing system and also for product and market development activities. Contact: Tim Nelson tim@organicfoodsofaustralia.com.au or (07) 4124 3688.

Recipient: Total Aquaculture Management Co. Location: Mooloolaba. PCP grant: $105,270 The Total Aquaculture Management Company will use its $105,270 PCP grant to help manufacture and commercialise a modular plastic raceway for the aquaculture sector. The plastic raceway is an efficient, clean and profitable alternative to net and concrete varieties. The new, light, plastic, bio-secure system also eliminates predator problems. Contact: Paul McVeigh pmcveigh@bigpond.com or (07) 4663 3573.

Recipient: Inglewood Farms. Location: Inglewood. PCP grant: $110,000. Inglewood Farms will use its $110,000 PCP grant to help develop and commercialise a range of value-added, organic chicken products. They will complement Inglewood's existing range of whole birds and portions (such as drumsticks and fillets). There is a growing market for organic food, with the $25 billion US market increasing by around 30 per cent a year. Contact: John Wylie wylie@flexi.net.au or (07) 4652 1753.

Recipient: Bunjurgen (trading as Bunny Bite Farms). Location: Boonah. PCP grant: $99,000. Bunny Bite Farms will use its $99,000 PCP grant to produce a range of value-added kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) products, including customised curry sauces, for the Japanese market. The funding will be used to undertake market testing and production trials, as well as promotional and marketing activities. Contact: Martin Horne martin@bunnybitefarms.com.au or (07) 5463 0288.

Recipient: Practical Business Systems (trading as Crop Master). Location: Gatton. PCP grant: $85,250. Practical Business Systems will use its $85,250 PCP grant to commercialise an innovative software package designed to boost business skills in the cropping and horticulture sectors. The software package also combines on-farm and financial analysis tools designed to eliminate duplication. Contact: Craig Barkhuizen craigb@cropmaster.com.au or (07) 5466 2267.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433