A growers contingent from the Granite Belt landed in Dubai over the weekend to examine how they produce in dry, desert conditions.
A growers contingent from the Granite Belt landed in Dubai over the weekend to examine how they produce in dry, desert conditions.

Desperate times: Growers head to the desert

GROWERS have taken drastic measures to improve productivity on the Granite Belt, venturing halfway around the world to a desert country to see how they farm.

Representatives from the Granite Belt Growers Association are currently in Dubai, seeing if they can’t learn a thing or two that could be transferred back to Stanthorpe.

The project, a collaboration between the Council for Arab and Australian Relations and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, has partly funded six local growers to travel to the United Arab Emirates.

Ray Bertinazzi, Peter Burnell, Mario Cannavo, Thomas Rizzato, Tim Sweet and Orazio Cannavo have joined DAF’s Justin Heaven on the research expedition.

“How do we come out of this significant drought and look at doing things better is the question we’ve got to ask,” Mr Heaven said.

“I hate the term, but it’s thinking outside the square.

“The Department of Agriculture submitted an application to receive funding and we were successful.

“DAF is working in collaboration with the Granite Belt Growers Association.”

With no end in sight to the current drought conditions, Mr Heaven said he was hopeful they could learn a few lessons.

“We’re looking to see how they do things in the UAE, being the desert,” he said.

“We’re going to visit the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture.

“They were established back in the late 1990s to explore better water security options for the Middle East.

“That’s sort of extended now to research into sustainability of agriculture in marginal areas.

“I suppose the immediate challenges faced by not only the Granite Belt, but all ­Australian producers, is with the impact of reduced water allocations and climate extremes.

“You just have to look around the Granite Belt right now and you’d think you’re probably in a desert here too.”

Mr Heaven said some growers on the Granite Belt were implementing new methods, but more could be learnt.

“People here are already moving into new ways of working,” he said.

“But I think it’s important for our producers in the local area to see what is happening on the other side of the world too.”

The group will spend five days on the ground.

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