Australians need irrigators if they are to have fresh vegetables, nuts, fruit and wine: that’s the message from recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, says National Irrigators Council chief executive officer Steve Whan.
The recent ABS Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production 2015-16 figures show that on dollar values 78 per cent of Australian vegetable production is irrigated, 90 per cent of fruit and nuts and 94 per cent of grapes.
‘‘There are nearly 23000 agricultural businesses irrigating in Australia with more than 9000 of those in the Murray-Darling Basin,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘Critics of irrigation like to portray those businesses negatively but the reality is they are using their share of water efficiently and effectively to produce the food we eat and the natural fibre we wear.
‘‘The simple truth is that without hard-working Murray-Darling Basin irrigators, when a Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide resident walked into a market, there’d be very little fresh, local and affordable (produce) on the shelves.
‘‘The ABS statistics show that overall the value of irrigated agricultural production dropped slightly between 2014-15 and 2015-16 but it was still worth more than $15billion to the Australian economy,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘That $15billion rolls through our economy not just providing our food and fibre but generating tens of thousands of jobs and export income for the nation.
‘‘The figures confirm the booming fruit and nut sector with its value of production rising 31 per cent between 2014-15 and 2015-16 from $2.8billion to $3.8billion.
‘‘Grapes, cotton and flowers also increased while the figures confirmed the tough year dairy had, with the value of irrigated dairy production dropping from $2.8billion to $2billion.’’