$400,000 to support apple, pear and cherry growers zap energy costs

More than 20 South Australian apple, pear and cherry growers are set to benefit from a $400,000 State Government grant for new infrastructure aimed at reducing on-farm energy costs.

The Apple and Pear Growers Association of South Australia (APGASA) is being offered up to $400,000 through the State Government’s Regional Growth Fund for a $1 million project to upgrade existing water pumping systems and install solar technology to improve efficiency.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the funding will assist in reducing on-farm energy costs with many growers impacted by last year’s hailstorms.

“This Regional Growth Fund project will provide industry wide benefits to South Australian apple, pear and cherry growers with an estimated five per cent crop increase resulting in an additional $1.5 million in farm gate value to the industry,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Not only will this project assist in reducing costs for an industry impacted by consecutive hailstorms but it will create up to 23 full time jobs.

“The project includes upgrades to 42 existing water pumping systems and the installation of solar technology across 22 properties which represents 70 per cent of South Australian growers by production volume.

“I believe the work undertaken by growers through this project could have wide ranging benefits for other horticultural industries that have irrigation as their core in providing greater resilience and sustainability.

“The Marshall Liberal Government continues to support our world class horticulture industries as our primary producers are the backbone of the state’s economy.”

CEO of the Apple and Pear Growers Association of SA Susie Green welcomed the Regional Growth Fund grant as a boost for the industry.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes from this and helping reduce the day-to-day energy costs of running an orchard,” said Ms Green.

The total project investment is $1.03 million, which includes direct industry co-contributions from up to 22 grower businesses, APGASA, and the Cherry Growers Association of South Australia.

The main project partner is Leedn Energy.

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