Planting the seeds of growth

Local rural landowners are being invited to participate in a project that aims to boost the agricultural and horticultural industry in Victoria's Wyndham and Melton areas.

"This project is of major importance for the future of Wyndham and Melton's dryland rural areas," said Wyndham Mayor, Councillor Henry Barlow.

It aims to identify the potential for innovative and value added investment in these areas, so that greater income can be generated and employment expanded.

"Wyndham is growing rapidly and it is important to develop local industries that will provide stable employment for locals in the future.

"Through this project Council will be investigating possibilities for developing a diversity of employment within the region."

The project, funded by the Federal Department of Work Place Relations and Small Business, is a key initiative of Melbourne's West Area Consultative Committee's Jobs ACCTion program. It is being supported locally by Wyndham City Council and Melton Shire Council. Project Co ordinator, Chris Guthrie, said that the Councils were keen to involve as many stakeholders as possible in the project.

A survey of some 2,000 landowners and agribusiness operators is currently being undertaken. It will determine the type and scope of businesses already operating in the region. Once the survey has been completed, the Councils will be investigating how they can better support existing agribusinesses and further develop new agribusiness opportunities.

"For this initiative to be successful, the Councils will be looking at what they will need to provide to support these industries and the people employed by them," Chris Guthrie said.

"Issues such as the provision of transport and social infrastructure, as well as marketing assistance, will need to be addressed."

He said that the potential for attracting more food processing and handling industries to link into the successful Laverton North industrial area and the Wyndham Technology Precinct would be explored.

In addition, profiles of successful agribusiness industries, such as the equine industry and Werribee South vegetable growing region, would be used to determine the benefits that these businesses can bring to the region in terms of employment and economic development. The information will also be used to identify ways to promote the area to potential investors.

For further information contact Chris Guthrie, telephone (03) 9742 0777.