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SYDNEY – New government research has highlighted the potential for increased cotton production in northern Australia. The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment studied the potential growth areas for fibre and food production in Australia’s north. The study, led by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, identified the potential for new dams, which could significantly boost the viability of irrigated cropping industries such as cotton.

The Australian cotton industry produces about 900,000 metric tonnes of cotton each year, with almost 100 per cent of this exported through ports in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Cotton Australia signed a partnership agreement in 2014 with BCI allowing cotton produced under the Australian myBMP certification to be sold into the global market as Better Cotton.

Cotton Australia has welcomed the findings of the federal study, with CEO Adam Kay suggesting it is good news for northern Australian farmers who are looking to move into growing higher value irrigated crops like cotton.

“The future of irrigated agriculture in northern Australia is looking brighter thanks to this study,” Kay said.

“These findings provide further evidence for what the Australian cotton industry has long recognised and advocated: northern Australia is a valuable region for agricultural growth in this country, and cotton can play an integral role in forging this exciting new frontier.”

Kay said the cotton industry is already expanding into northern Australia, and the study’s findings can now push that expansion further.

“The Australian cotton industry has for a long time invested in R&D in northern Australia with the aim of expanding where cotton can be successfully and viably grown,” he added.

“We’re currently seeing a number of innovative organisations and growers, particularly in Western Australia’s Ord and the gulf in Queensland, testing cotton on a large scale.

”Cotton not only produces high-quality fibre that is in demand globally, but for every tonne of fibre there is more than a tonne of cotton seed produced, which is a highly valued cattle feed in northern Australia.

“Cotton Australia looks forward to working with government and stakeholders to ensure the findings of this study don’t fall of the radar, and that we see real and meaningful investment in agriculture in northern Australia.”

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