Great news this week with the announcement of Queensland Government funding contribution to the CQ Inland Port and… I never thought I would see chickpeas on the front page of the Courier Mail but here it is. What a magnificent sight, particularly given the Central Highlands grows about 15 percent of the national desi-chickpea crop and was such a considerable contributor to the Queensland crop last year.

CQ Inland Port and Yamala Special Enterprise Area a Game Changer
Announced earlier this month by State Development Minister Anthony Lynham was the success of the Central Highland Regional Council’s (CHRC) application for Building Our Regions funding to support the Yamala Enterprise Area incorporating the CQ Inland Port, the transformative intermodal freight hub infrastructure.

There is no doubt that the $4.4 million will result in long-term economic benefits, freight efficiencies and employment growth for Queensland and the Central Highlands. The initial stage involves a major upgrade to the intersection of the Capricorn Highway and Bonnie Doon Road, construction of a 1.5 km rail siding and an upgrade to Bonnie Doon Road for access to the site. This infrastructure is a critical enabler to allow the intermodal port to proceed. Council and private sector investment (CQ Inland Port, GrainCorp) will contribute the balance to reach the $9.4 million needed for this stage of the project.

This has been a major project for CHRC, the Stent-Smith family and GrainCorp over many years. CHDC would also like to thank AgForce Grains, GrainGrowers, Cotton Australia, Pulse Australia, the Australian Oilseed Federation, Spackman Iker and Associates, Nigel Burnett and Arcturus Downs, who all at minimum, provided written support for the project, with many investing substantial effort to gain Queensland Government support.

Read more here.

Sun, Soil and Beyond: Central Highlands Agribusiness Regional Stocktake
Nearly 100 people attended CHDC’s Sun, Soil & Beyond Industry Forum last Friday and heard how agribusiness is powering in the region. Here are a few early findings from the Central Highlands Agribusiness Regional Stocktake presented by JP Van Moort, ACIL Allen:
• $680 million in gross value was produced by agribusiness in the Central Highlands during the 2014/15 year with largest contributors being beef cattle and grains.
• Did you know we produce 10% of Australia’s table grapes?
• Since 2010/11, the Central Highlands has increased the average value produced per ha by 15%, at a higher rate than Australia (6%) and other comparable regions.
• The Central Highlands agricultural sector imports around $110 million in inputs from across Australia – most of these are in professional and financial services, manufacturing, and technical services.

One of the first major initiatives to be completed by the Central Highlands Accelerate Agribusiness (CHAA) initiative, this important paper gives the region excellent information on what’s produced; value-adding and end-users for the Central Highlands products; maps the trends; and compares how we’re tracking against other similar regions. The CHAA initiative is using this data to identify short and longer-term opportunities to build and grow agribusiness in the region.

Contact Liz Alexander for more information E: agribusiness@chdc.com.au or M: 0429 471 511.

Featured Image: A paddock newly sown with chickpeas. Farmers are ditching wheat and barley as demand for chickpeas grows among India’s middle class. Courtesy of Dannika Bonser/Courier Mail

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