TFS seeks cattle, horticulture partners

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
TFS chief executive Frank Wilson.
Camera IconTFS chief executive Frank Wilson. Credit: AAP.

Indian sandalwood producer TFS is looking for partners in cattle production or horticulture as it seeks to make use of freehold land assets in northern Australia.

TFS chief executive Frank Wilson said the Perth-based company was seeking returns on land that was not suitable for sandalwood plantations.

Cut to wild sandalwood harvest

“We are actively looking at ways we can use our non-sandalwood land,” he said.

“There are about 25,000ha across northern Australia that we own that we think could be put to other agricultural uses.

“We would work with cattle interests, we would work with farmers in horticulture ... whoever is best placed to make economic use of the property.”

Most of the land is in WA and the Northern Territory. It is owned under freehold title and suitable for irrigation projects.

Mr Wilson said TFS did not favour leasing to a third party.

“A partnership or a joint venture are both things we’d consider,” he said.

The State Government has just named TFS as the preferred proponent to develop about 1000ha under its latest land release on the Ord River irrigation scheme. TFS will be given freehold title over the Ord West Bank site if it meets development targets, native title and environmental, in developing the bushland over the next few years.

“The approval process is not expensive, but is time consuming,” Mr Wilson said.

“Overall it is a relatively low cost way for us to develop land. We have to develop land when we buy it anyway.”

TFS is growing about 4.5 million sandalwood trees and has plantations covering more than 10,500ha in northern Australia.

Mr Wilson said most of the Ord West Bank land was suitable for growing sandalwood, but some might be put to other uses.

TFS missed out on the last big land release on the Ord which went to Chinese-owned Kimberley Agricultural Investment.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails