Griffith citrus growers are just waiting to rejoice - depending on the results of the upcoming elections.
Their excitement stems from the announcement of funding for a citrus research centre which would see specifically catered research used to expand the industry right here in the MIA, keeping up with a global market.
Member for Murray Austin Evans was joined by deputy premier John Barilaro to announce that a re-elected NSW Liberals and Nationals Government will invest $300,000 to create this new hub.
Secretary of the local growers association Griffith Vito Mancini has been part of developing the pitch to the government for just on twelve months.
He said this push has come from disparity about what's been coming out in other southern growing regions in comparison to our own.
"If we can see a 15 per cent increase in some varieties, that could mean the difference between boom and bust," Mr Mancini said.
The money will allow for an upgrade to the centre’s existing irrigation system, ensuring the facility can support research trials using high-density plantings and hybrid pumping, as well as new technology such as robotic harvesting.
Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said the funding complements existing research, following a $50 million investment into the state’s agricultural research institutions last year.
With new varieties able to unlock new markets and new opportunities for expansion, the research coming out of the centre will include varietal selections and water efficiency opportunities.
"It’s very important for us particularly that we can get that return on water," Mr Mancini said.
"Making sure every drop is used correctly and use the most of it, we can have a real sustainable industry in the future.
"I’d like to thank everyone who is involved. A lot of growers have put work into what they see the citrus industry looking like in the future. That collaboration has been a great thing."
He says with indepth research catering to Griffith's and the MIA's specific growing conditions, rather than centres like Dareton, the area will soon become the "brain-centre" for agricultural innovation.
Growers John Sergi and Renzo Manente, who have been in citrus farming most of their lives - have seen the tides of the citrus industry ebb and flow in the region, and are hopeful this move will help continue making citrus "viable".
"This will definitely help towards keeping citrus viable," Mr Manente said.
For Mr Sergi, he says the support is "long overdue."
"It is so good to see the government support us. We need government support to stay ahead in the game. Now we just hope that they get in again," Mr Mancini said.
The Griffith Centre for Irrigated Agriculture is located in the MIA, with access to 29 hectares of irrigated land to support on-farm research. This will also provide a central location for demonstration workshops and growers’ meetings, with conference and meeting room facilities already available onsite.
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