Australia’s garlic industry has developed a new framework to push the quality and amount of garlic grown on Australian soil.
Only about 20 per cent of garlic sold in Australia is grown domestically.
With the Farming Together program, growers aim to expand production of late-season garlic to meet market demand from April to November – a time when Australia normally imports garlic.
One of the project leaders, grower Bronwyn Richards, said Australia didn’t don’t grow enough garlic to meet demand in its own country.
Garlic was a crop well-suited to small-scale cultivation, often as a diversified crop alongside other primary production, said Richards.
A co-op of 30 garlic growers from Braidwood, NSW, developed a simple model for judging the quality of garlic presented for sale.
It supports growers to grow to that standard.
The program, backed by the Australian Government, supports small-scale growers meeting a demand for Australian-grown, chemical-free garlic.
“The aim for Braidwood is to eventually be a key growing area for some of these later varieties of garlic that like our cold climate,” said Richards.
“The development of a quality framework is a first in our industry.
“It documents how quality can be defined, judged and achieved. We have also developed a simple and easy-to-apply biosecurity plan that could be used by any garlic grower,” she said.
“It will help raise industry awareness of biosecurity issues across all stages of growing and moving garlic.
“Additionally, we believe the financial model developed for our project is scalable and has application to other co-operatives. The model can be contextualised for other industries and co-operative business structures.”
Involvement in the Farming Together program delivered immediate financial benefits to the group, said Richards.
Retail prices improved for the crop, and with a bulk purchase of mulch straw the group was saving $50 a bale.
Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said the project delivered learnings that would benefit the whole industry.
The program has been a two-year, $13.8m initiative from the Australian Government designed to help agricultural groups value-add, secure premium pricing, scale-up production, attract capital investment, earn new markets or secure lower input costs.
In two years Farming Together has had contact with more than 28,500 farmers.
The Farming Together pilot program was delivered by Southern Cross University and finished on 30 June 2018.