Australian Functional Ingredients Pty Ltd

Grow bush tucker and they will buy - not.

The following is reproduced from the ABC News website:

Gardens program aims to increase bush tucker demand

It is hoped a new training program will increase international demand for Aboriginal bush tucker.

The Western Australian Government hopes its Community Gardens Program will increase the export quantities of both traditional produce like the bush plum known as gubinge, as well as conventional fruits and vegetables grown in the state’s north.

The program is a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Kimberley TAFE.

It is aimed at teaching Kimberley and Pilbara people about plant nutrition, seed development, irrigation methods, business management and marketing practices.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance hopes the program will harness the export potential of produce like the vitamin-rich gubinge.

“The qualities that gubinge has exhibited, for example, have already aroused international attention, it’s a matter of having a supply chain which is competent to deal with an export market,” he said.

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My thoughts are that this must be a classic case of bureaucratic idiocy. The truth is that the market for gubinge (aka Kakadu plum) is nowhere near at full demand and that for other bushfoods is equally poor.

As for gardening/farming the plum, a large multi-national recently walked away from millions of dollars of investment and years of effort trying to cultivate the plum only to discover that agriculture resulted in the lowest levels of vitamin C (for which the plum is now known following my analyses confirming it as the world’s highest fruit source of the nutrient back in the 1980s. It seems the only way to maximise the nutritional value of this species is to wild harvest it from the worst areas, the toughest environments in which it could possibly grow.

Why is this project not surprising when successive governments from both sides of the fence are willing to throw money at training programs when the real investment should be in the area of building markets, not supply. Where is the research proving the crop suits the need or that the costs of growing foodstuff in the most remote part of this country will be cost-effective in markets at the opposite end of the continent, let alone the world.

A classic case of build it and they will come. Unfortunately, it only works in the movies.

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Vic Cherikoff