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Frequently Asked Questions

What is planned for Singleton Horticultural Project? Fortune Agri is planning to develop 3,300 hectares of Singleton Station for irrigated horticulture, to create one of Australia’s premium fruit and vegetable precincts. Singleton Farm will be developed in four stages over 9 years and will create genuine social and economic benefits for the people of the Barkly and Western Davenport Region. The Farm will provide fresh produce for the local community and Australian and international markets, increasing our nation’s food security as well as Australia’s trade output.  We are committed to being a highly efficient food producer which is conscious of the need to balance economic benefit with the natural and cultural environment of the region. Singleton Farm will incorporate innovative farming practices and the latest technology to drive ongoing improvement across all aspects of the farming operation. Along with Singleton Farm’s real time weather station information (available to all), we will utilise smart irrigation controllers and soil moisture sensors to achieve the most efficient use of water.

Has there been consultation with community? There has been consultation with a broad range of stakeholders since the beginning of the project. We regularly engage with stakeholders through a variety of ways, understanding that being part of the community is essential for the success of the project. We have been actively listening to what the community needs and continuing to work on ways to collaborate with the wider community. Fortune Agri is committed to working closely with Traditional Owners and stakeholders to address their environmental and cultural impact concerns throughout the life of the project. We have conducted on country engagement with Traditional Owners, landowners, and the Central Land Council and will be continuing to do so. We value and respect local traditional knowledge, and the land management experience of local Indigenous people to farms such as Singleton Farm.

How many jobs will the Singleton Farm provide? Singleton Farm will create and sustain a large range of permanent and seasonal jobs, including both direct employment by Fortune Agri as well as indirect jobs in the wider community and related to the supply chains. The farm itself will require 150 permanent operational positions and up to 1350 seasonal workers when fully developed. Fortune Agri has a specific policy to prioritise local employment in all roles and, as projected by GHD’s recent Economic Impact Assessment, the Farm will support more than 420 full time equivalent NT based jobs when fully operational. In addition, an average of 70 full time equivalent construction positions will be required annually through the nine-year development phase. There will be long-term training and employment opportunities for local people, especially the local Indigenous community, as well as numerous local business opportunities for existing and new contractors and service providers.

How will the project benefit the NT? Production from Singleton Farm will contribute substantially to the Northern Territory economy and the Barkly regional economy. The Farm will provide contractors and service providers in Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and the surrounding areas with significant long-term opportunities to bolster their capabilities in roles such as bore construction, trades, fencing, land preparation, equipment sales and hire, and ongoing servicing/supplying of the project’s community. Importantly it will also underpin training and employment programs for the local community, in particular skills enhancement of local Indigenous people. When fully developed, projected fruit and vegetable production revenue is estimated to be $200 million per annum which would increase the Barkly region’s Gross Regional Product by 45%. Much of the forecast annual operating expenditure will be spent locally, subsequently being a catalyst for further agriculture development with the availability of shared infrastructure to support other projects in the area.

Why have such a large project in a remote location? The area has a long agricultural history with an army operated farm on Singleton supplying fresh produce to Australian troops during WWII. The lack of existing infrastructure demands the investment of $250 million to provide upgrades to regional power and a future solar farm, reliable high-speed internet connection, as well as state of the art farming infrastructure such as cold storage, packing and processing facilities, and machinery workshops. New community facilities to attract and retain the permanent and seasonal workforce will also be required. Without this infrastructure, smaller scale projects will find it difficult to achieve sustainable production and commercial outcomes. The scale of Singleton Farm will also maximise efficiencies and enable multiple crops to be planted, spreading the harvest season over more of the year. Singleton Farm’s scale will build sustainable fruit and vegetable supply chains presenting commercial opportunity for additional parties to invest in the region and will establish proven routes-to-market for the farm’s output, reducing risk for other projects.

What crops will be grown and why? At least 75% will be permanent crops – mandarins, table grapes, dried grapes and possibly avocados and jujube, with the remainder being annual crops such as onions, rock melons and fodder. Horticulture crops can deliver 4 to 6 times more value per ML of water than alternative crops and create between 10 and 20 times more employment opportunities.

How much water is needed? Fortune Agri has applied for a 40 GL/year water licence to provide surety for the long-term sustainability of the project. The Singleton development is staged over 9 years, and the later tree crops will take 4 to 5 years to reach maturity. The full 40 GL allocation per annum is just 0.03% of the underlying water resource, well below the long-term aquifer recharge rate, and will not be required in full until approximately the 13th year.

How will the water be managed and monitored? Fortune Agri is committed to the sustainable use of the area’s valuable water resources and the success of the project depends on careful and sustained management of this resource. Staged development and adaptive management for Singleton Farm with ongoing, comprehensive monitoring and progressive adjustments, will enable data collection and environmental evaluation and reporting prior to the project progressing to the next stage. We hope that an Indigenous ranger program can be established to participate in the design and management of the monitoring program.

What scientific studies are there to back the Water Allocation? The NTG has conducted detailed studies into the groundwater resource and its sustainable yield, the suitability of soils for agriculture, the possibility of threatened species and the location of sensitive ecosystems and their relationships to groundwater. Geoscience Australia in partnership with NTG has also conducted extensive field investigations, confirming the large volume of water sustainably available for allocation is suitable for agriculture in the central zone of Western Davenport area. Fortune Agri has conducted its own scientific studies into relevant areas, including groundwater modelling, detailed field soil survey, mapping of groundwater dependent ecosystems, laboratory analysis and field trials to determine suitability of the project site for the proposed crops, and flood risk modelling.

What’s to stop Fortune Agri on-selling the water licence? Singleton Farm’s water licence is project specific. The success and viability of Singleton Farm’s crops is dependent on its allocated water availability and the sustainable use of this water resource, which will be strictly monitored and publicly scrutinised for the life of the project. We have already negotiated Heads of Agreements with major produce distributors for around 70% of the anticipated production from Singleton Farm.

Will the project protect sacred sites? Fortune Agri has invested in extensive scientific studies and modelling and sought advice from native title holders to position Singleton Farm in locations that ensure development plans minimise potential impacts to the natural environment and sites of cultural significance. An AAPA Clearance Certificate has been obtained for the project area and surrounds. We will ensure the development does not impinge on sacred sites.

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