Growers raise red tape, climate woes

Hannalore HepburnCountryman

Myalup's market garden owners had an opportunity to talk to Mr Baston when he visited Ivankovich Farms during his tour through the South West.

The coastal strip, about 140km south of Perth, is an important area of horticulture, producing 25 per cent of the State's vegetables worth $62 million annually.

Peter Ivankovich has grown his produce on 12.1ha of irrigated land for almost two decades and, together with his son Anthony, harvests about 6000 tonnes of carrots and 3000t of onions together with other vegetables per year.

The business exports 95 per cent of the carrots to the Middle East with onions destined for the domestic markets.

The farm participates in the Department of Agriculture and Food's More Dollars per Drop water efficiency use project, funded by Royalty for Regions, that assesses its irrigation systems and production capacity and provides information on water efficiency and potential improvements.

"It is a viable business but there is a lot of red tape," Mr Invankovich said.

"We never needed planning consent when we wanted to develop more of our land to increase the production, but now we learned that we need to apply for planning consent."

Leanne Maiolo from LJM Produce said growers were concerned about sustainability in a changing climate.

"There is a huge demand for carrots and the potential to develop land but we are look- ing for stability and some guarantees that we will have a quality water supply," she said.

Sufficient water supply was the key issue for all farmers and grower Anthony Marinovich said to be able to compete in a global market, market gardens needed to become more automated and efficient.

Constantly increasing power bills are also an issue brought up with the minister who heard that growers face bills of several hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Mr Baston said the purpose of his visit was to learn about the growers' concerns and it was pleasing to see the area produced a substantial amount of vegetables for the rest of the State.

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