Carnarvon bore levels critical

The West Australian
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Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston will meet Gascoyne producers and key industry representatives today to assess the effects of the dry conditions on horticultural production in the region.

Carnarvon growers are facing increased production losses due to an extended dry spell and the Gascoyne River hasn't had a strong flow since the 2010-11 floods.

As bores drop to critically low levels, Mr Baston will hold talks with the Gascoyne Water Cooperative, Department of Water and Carnarvon Growers Association.

"There have been poor flows since the floods in 2010-11 and there is the potential for another dry year, which may result in restricted access to water supplies," Mr Baston. "We will support growers to plan for water restrictions that may occur between January and March next year and beyond - if there is no river flow.

The Department of Agriculture and Food is hosting two industry workshops in early December as part of its Dry Season Response for growers in the district.

The workshops will address best practice irrigation methods, production capacity, cash flow and peak debt management, and the possible impact on future seasons and recovery strategies.

"The department will work with vegetablesWA's Vietnamese development officer Truyen Vo to deliver a workshop specifically for Vietnamese growers in Carnarvon," the Minister said. "After the workshops, department officers will be on hand for those growers seeking additional assistance and advice. Ideally, cyclonic rains over the next few months would provide the best outcome."

Comprehensive on-farm assessments of 34 fruit and vegetable-growing businesses were done earlier in the year.

Those businesses will soon receive analysis of their water use efficiency and detailed reports identifying ways to improve the productivity and profitability of their farms.

During his visit to Carnarvon, the Minister will also meet table grape producers, the Gascoyne Development Commission and Shire of Carnarvon.

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