10-06-2014

$70 million investment to boost Narrandera economy and kick-start nsw hazelnut industry

The planting of more than one million trees has started on a new $70 million hazelnut investment near Narrandera, NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced today.

Ms Hodgkinson said the trees are being planted on a new 2000-hectare farm owned by Agri Australis Pty Ltd, which is an Australian subsidiary of global confectionary giant, the Ferrero Group.

"Today’s planting of the first of a one million hazelnut tree plantation marks a significant milestone for our primary industries sector and for the Riverina,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

"The NSW Government has worked closely with Agri Australis to facilitate this investment and make sure the company chose our State for this investment.

"This investment will not only directly create up to 50 permanent jobs and more than 50 seasonal jobs; it will indirectly provide a welcome boost to the Narrandera economy.”

Ms Hodgkinson said the project will boost the NSW hazelnut industry.

"Currently Australia only produces about 80 tonnes of hazelnuts annually and imports more than 2000 tonnes,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

"Once this farm is fully operational, it is expected it will generate some 5000 tonnes of hazelnuts and has the potential, with the contribution of local growers, to enable the NSW industry to meet a production target of 10,000 tonnes in the medium term.

“This investment has the potential to kick start a productive industry in NSW, which could become a $200 million export business for Australia.

"Agri Australis aims to set up the Narrandera farm as a large demonstration site to show other farmers and investors the potential of hazelnut cultivation.

"The important news for our farmers in NSW is they have the opportunity to follow the lead of the Ferrero Group to consider hazelnuts as an option to help increase diversification and provide a new income stream.”

Ms Hodgkinson said researchers from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) worked closely with Agri Australis and the Commonwealth Government over the past four years to help facilitate the project in the Riverina.

"DPI researchers also provided advice on potential locations and the NSW Government provided land for development of a quarantine station at the Yanco Agricultural Institute,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

"The trees are expected to take about four years to grow and the farm should reach full production capability by 2022.

"The Riverina was specifically chosen for this project because its growing conditions, and reliability of water, appear ideal for growing hazelnuts.”

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