Infrastructure works in South Australia can play a major role in improving Australia’s food security, according to Wakool farmer and Southern Riverina Irrigators deputy chair Darcy Hare.
He said serious decisions must be made so the nation could shore-up its ability to keep growing food and fibre for domestic and international consumption.
“We are heading towards a crisis,” Mr Hare said.
“Government policies are reducing the productive capacity of our irrigation regions by about 30 per cent.
“Our politicians must start planning for a future of more droughts, and as a consequence we have to substantially improve the management of our scarce water resources.
“Infrastructure in South Australia can be a key to achieving these goals.”
Mr Hare said the first project needed to be automating South Australia's barrages and building Lock Zero, as outlined in A Better Way by Ken Jury, as well as reinstating the south-east drainage infrastructure into the Coorong.
“There are significant benefits to South Australia and the nation from prioritising these projects,” he said.
“Firstly it would create immediate employment opportunities.
“It would increase South Australia’s allocation reliability by reducing evaporation, and have environmental benefits by reducing the numbers of European carp in the Lower Lakes.
“Carp are presently in plague proportions there, but could be eliminated with changed management.
“This may also present an opportunity to revive the mulloway (fish) industry that once thrived in South Australia, exporting 600 tonnes a year in the 1930s before the barrages were constructed.”
Mr Hare said the infrastructure works would have other benefits to South Australia’s domestic water supplies, as well as the contribution it could make to Australia’s food security.