Investigation starts into NT 'super food bowl'

A comprehensive investigation into transforming the Northern Territory's Roper River catchment into a ‘super food bowl’ has been kicked off by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government had contracted CSIRO to deliver the $3.5 million Roper River Water Resource Assessment (RoWRA), which will run from 1 July 2019 to December 2021.

“CSIRO estimates more than one million hectares of the catchment area could be suitable for irrigated cropping,” Mr McCormack said.

“The catchment is located near major transport routes and key agricultural centres, adding to its potential.

“This assessment will provide the key information needed to unlock investment in the agricultural potential of the Roper River catchment area and support our farmers into the future.”

Northern Territory Senator Sam McMahon said she was pleased the project was already underway, demonstrating the government's commitment to delivering greater water security for rural communities while continuing to support regional economic growth, employment and prosperity.

“I, along with the Deputy Prime Minister, look forward to receiving an assessment that provides detailed and scientifically validated data,” Dr McMahon said.

“The resulting information will be readily accessible for governments, investors and communities to plan future projects that will drive the economic growth of the region.

“CSIRO will closely engage with the NT Government, agribusiness and local communities to deliver this assessment.”

The project's first methods workshop and field trip will be held this week, with the stakeholder attendees including the NT Farmers' Association, NT Cattlemen's Association, Northern Land Council and others.

Topics will include agriculture, economics, ecology and surface water storage as they apply to the Roper River catchment.