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Is the Northern Territory ripe for an avocado boom?

Australia’s biggest avocado nursery is confident the Northern Territory can become home to a thriving industry able to produce the fruit for domestic and export markets.

Key points:

  • Australia’s biggest avocado nursery is set to team up with NT growers to kickstart a local avocado industry
  • The Maluma variety is showing promising signs for northern growers
  • An increasing appetite for avocados in Asia paves the way for an export market for NT growers

New South Wales-based Anderson Horticulture is responsible for supplying about 30 per cent of Australia’s avocado trees, and is looking to start trialling new varieties with growers in the Katherine region within 12 months.

Graham Anderson said a lack of varieties suited to the Top End climate had long been a hurdle for developing a NT avocado industry — but that was about to change.

“We’ve now got great varieties for this area, the best one I can think of is the Maluma,” he said.

“It’s preferred on the European market and I think here [in the Katherine region] it has got huge potential.”

An older, bearded man stands in a country setting on a stunning sunny day.

Graham Anderson hopes to start avocado trials near Katherine within the next 12 months.(ABC Rural: Jon Daly)

So far, so good

Mr Anderson said the Maluma variety was already being trialled at Lakeland in far north Queensland and was doing “extremely well”.

Speaking to ABC Rural at the Northern Food Futures Roadshow in Katherine, Mr Anderson said avocados could play a big role in the NT’s plan to boost the annual value of plant-based industries to beyond $1 billion by 2030.

“I’m passionate about developing the northern part of Australia — I think it’s been under-utilised,” he said.

“We need export products and from here I think we can make a lot of money for the country.”

A hand holds an avocado, still attached to its tree.

A trial of Maluma avocados is looking promising at a farm near Lakeland in Queensland, about three hours’ drive north of Cairns.(ABC News: Casey Briggs)

Tropical avocados

Mr Anderson said Maluma avocado trees grown in the NT would bear fruit within 12 months, and would capitalise on a market window when prices hit their peak between January and March.

He said the NT could help the industry “guarantee a premium product 12 months of the year”, and was already in talks with local NT farmers.

“They’re really interested and want to do trials with us,” Mr Anderson said.

“We’ve had a really good reception.

Picking avocadoes

Will the Maluma variety help kickstart the NT’s avocado industry?(Supplied: Mackays Group)

Queensland-based company Mackays Group is already growing and selling Maluma avocados.

Director Cameron Mackay said the company identified the Maluma as a good yielding, high quality variety, that could work in Australia’s tropics about three years ago.

“It’s a very good value offer in that it has got a small seed inside and offers a very healthy amount of flesh,” he said.

Mr Mackay said NT farmers were on the doorstep of Asia, where demand for avocados was increasing.

“Asia is really growing an appetite for avocados of late, and I think it’d be a great opportunity for growers [in the NT],” he said.

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