After a decade of wishful thinking and dozens of talk fests it seems the Riverland and Mallee Primary Producers Business Centre is RAMPPing up. With recent expressions of commitment to support the concept from Citrus and Fresh Fruits and renewed interest from Government things are getting serious. It’s recently been decided to revert to the original name Riverland and Mallee Primary Producers Business Centre to be known as RAMPP.
The concept was first discussed in 2006 with local member Karlene Maywald and Ag Minister at the time Rory McEwen. It was initially to be a collaborative arrangement between irrigated horticulturists. Then the dry years rolled in and the Horticulture Reference Forum took centre stage and the need for the business centre was less pressing. The Hort Reference Forum under the guidance of Kevin Pfeiffer was a great success leading to the establishment of the Drought Response Centre in Berri for the duration of the period of drought and restrictions.
In 2010 the locust plague threatened and the Loxton Research Centre became the local response centre for a number of months. That revived the idea of the business centre and the realisation that the dry-land farming community might also be interested to join. Thanks to the enthusiasm of Mike Vowles and a group of interested grain producers the concept took off again. In late 2011 the RDA added support and pitched in some matching dollars to enable a Business Case to be developed. In early 2012, the then federal minister for regional development came to the region and the core group of enthusiasts presented the concept. He said “if you can make it work here, it could become a model for other regions across the country!”. But still the producers lacked cohesion and funds. There were so many distractions with lack of profitability and worries about sustainability.
South Australian Murray Irrigators (SAMI) added their support in late 2012. The big breakthrough came in August 2013 when Premier Weatherill announced the redevelopment of the Loxton Research Centre and encouragement for the local primary producers to collaborate and make it happen. Most recently Minister Brock, as State Minister for Regional Development has voiced his enthusiasm and with support from PIRSA a core group including grapes and wine, grains, almonds, fresh fruits, SAMI and citrus have committed to incorporate an association with an interim board to work with State Government to RAMPP it into our regional community.
Watch this space for regular updates. Details of how the centre will develop and manage its business will be shared in the coming weeks.