Australia goes nuts for hazelnuts
A new agricultural industry is emerging in Australia with more than two hundred thousand hazelnut trees now successfully imported from Chile.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said a second consignment of hazelnut trees cleared quarantine on 27 November 2013 thanks to several years of careful planning to ensure biosecurity risks associated with the introduction of new planting stock were managed.
“This sort of collaboration, between government and the horticulture industry, is a model other sectors could draw on if looking to create new agricultural industries and products in Australia,” Minister Joyce said.
“This is a good example of a committed importer who was willing to work through our biosecurity requirements in order to establish a sustainable industry here.
“Their perseverance has created an opportunity for some of our farmers to diversify and grow this alternative crop, increasing their farm-gate returns and positively impacting their local communities.”
The Department of Agriculture has worked closely with scientists from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Chilean quarantine service and the Australian importer—Agri Australis, part of the Ferrero Group—to import the high-quality hazelnut trees.
The consignments of Chilean hazelnut trees were placed in mandatory quarantine and screened for pests and diseases of biosecurity concern. The first consignment was released from quarantine at the end of last year.
Agri Australis General Manager, Alessandro Boccardo, said working through the biosecurity requirements had been important to fulfilling the business objective – to develop a reliable Southern Hemisphere supply to ensure counter seasonal availability of a high quality standard.
“The intention is to develop a large scale hazelnut demonstration farm near Narrandera in the Riverina– planting a million trees over 2000 hectares – that will demonstrate the sustainability and profitability of the hazelnut business to Australian farmers and potential investors.
“By 2022 the modelling forecasts about 5000 tonnes of hazelnuts will be harvested from the demonstration farm – and we’re hoping local growers can match that volume in the medium term,” Mr Boccardo said.
The hazelnut project highlights the role biosecurity plays in facilitating the safe entry of new plant and animal material to improve the competitiveness of Australia’s agricultural industries.
The department’s role is to protect Australia’s biosecurity status and the environment from pests and diseases, and this underpins the productivity of our primary industries.
Agri Australis was presented with a Biosecurity Award from the Department of Agriculture for its collaborative approach to meeting Australia’s biosecurity requirements.