An investment of $20.1m to seal gravel roads is needed to boost the mango industry and improve productivity and the Territory’s horticultural competitiveness.
Litchfield Council in partnership with NT Farmers and the Mango Association, recently completed an economic analysis study on the benefit of sealing 15.2km of roads on which key farms and regional packing sheds are located. The study found that it is a wise investment and a necessary one, if the industry is to ensure top grade fruit and grow Asian and Middle East markets.
The Litchfield’s mango industry accounts for almost 24% of the Australian mango output with product sent to markets in South Australia, NSW and Victoria and growing overseas markets.
Litchfield Council Mayor Maree Bredhauer said mangoes are the main horticultural crop in the NT, worth a combined annual total of about $88.5m. Unsealed roads create significant problems for Growers.
“Bruised fruit, reduced mango tree pollination and safety of large vehicles are just a few of the issues faced by our local mango growers. Fruit is being downgraded after travelling on these roads and these packing sheds process fruit from the local farms and farms as far away as Katherine. Six rows of mango trees located on a gravel road don’t flower and the additional dust creates the perfect environment for dust mites. “the Mayor said.
The Study finds that if these roads are sealed there will be more and higher-grade fruit to market and larger harvests from current plantations. Operations will be 20% more efficient with reduced transit times and lower maintenance costs on vehicles.
As the next step, Council will initiate a series of meetings with Federal and Territory Government and Politicians to present the economic basis for the $20m investment, seeking funding. The Study identifies a 9.3% return on investment with strong business case and the cost benefit analysis.