Government of Western Australia Official Site


TAP project to develop irrigated agricultural in the Pilbara

The WA Government will turn on the tap to irrigated agricultural development in the Pilbara, with a $5.9 million project to lay the foundations for new businesses and jobs. The Transforming Agriculture in the Pilbara (TAP) project will ground-truth soil and water resources in the region for potential horticulture, fodder and field crop production for a range of development sizes.

The project will build on the recently completed Pilbara Hinterland Agricultural Development Initiative, which identified more than 10 areas with prospective land and water resources, including De Grey River, Shaw River, Oakover River, Robe River and Newman areas. 

Initial findings have identified a potential water supply in the Pilbara of at least 100 gigalitres, which if verified, equates to up to 12,000 hectares of irrigated land to add to the region’s current fledgling industry of 2,750 hectares

The three-year project will establish test production bores to assess water supply, quality and sustainability, as well as soil surveys to identify suitable areas for agricultural production. The project will work in partnership with industry on prospective irrigation systems research activities to optimise productivity from suitable land and water resources.

TAP will also investigate the potential for commercial production of native foods for premium markets, including Split Jack, native pear and northern sandalwood. 

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan commented:“There is great untapped agricultural potential in the Pilbara; we want to unlock those opportunities to diversify and build greater economic depth in the region. The TAP project will prove up the resources in the region, providing potential investors with the confidence to pursue opportunities to develop horticulture and fodder and possibly grain production.”

“The project will also work with existing landholders to assess the resource potential for smaller, intensive irrigated agricultural opportunities to be integrated into their businesses. Our Government is committed to working hand in hand with Pilbara pastoralists and traditional land owners on realising a shared vision that will produce benefits for future generations.”

Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel added:“This is an exciting new project that supports further economic diversification and growth for the Pilbara. This project complements the Government’s ongoing efforts in agricultural development for the Pilbara, and I particularly welcome the partnership with traditional owners to look at the potential commercial production of native foods.”

Photo: TAP project lead Chris Schelfhout with Member for Pilbara, Kevin Michel and Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan at the announcement in Newman.

Source: The West Australian