Seeding new opportunities for the future of the IOT

The future sustainability of local agriculture and farming in the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) has been boosted, with the success of three exciting horticultural projects supported by the Albanese Labor Government’s Innovative Agricultural Trials grants program.  

The program, which delivered almost $450,000 to the projects in September 2022, is supporting economic diversification, sustainability and reduced dependency on imported produce for communities of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The projects have all successfully demonstrated different hydroponic techniques for producing locally grown fresh and affordable food, while providing skills development opportunities for these remote communities.

After extensive trials to optimise varieties that are suitable to the conditions and community demands, each of the three projects are now producing crops.

The Cocos Islands Co-operative Society Ltd is now harvesting crops weekly for distributions through local stores, with success growing cucumbers, bean sprouts and water spinach.

Over time, the Co-Op hopes to provide a weekly supply of leafy greens, micro greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snake beans and eggplants.

Phosphate Resources Ltd is sharing its experience through a community program in partnership with the Christmas Island school and community groups.

Based on the trial’s yields, PRL is hoping to produce a range of vegetables in the coming year, including Chinese vegetables, herbs and lettuce varieties.

The Cocos Artisans Collective has trialled leafy greens and micro-greens across a range of plant quantities and mediums, to identify what produced the best outcome for the community.

This included processes to provide a continual supply for the market. It is also developing a system and instructions for a home hydroponics system that can be rolled out to the community.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain:

“Like a number of remote communities across the country, the Indian Ocean Territories face complex challenges that require innovative solutions – food-security being at the forefront.

“It was really fantastic to see these innovative trials take shape earlier this year during my visit to the IOT – and the continued success of growing fresh produce on-island will have lasting benefits for locals.

“This highlights what can be achieved when tapping into the resourcefulness of local communities in increasing self-sufficiency and building key skills for future employment and business opportunities.”

Quotes attributable to the Member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour:

“The successful outcome of this program is an exciting step forward for the self-sufficiency of the Indian Ocean Territories.

“The communities of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands have the passion and vision needed to achieve great things, and with targeted support from the Albanese Labor Government, we have seen these visions turn into real outcomes that could have a huge impact for the region into the future.”