Funds for tropical pulse research

QUEENSLAND'S bid to double food production by 2040 received a boost in the State Budget with a $4.8 million investment for research into tropical pulses - legumes, chickpeas, lentils and beans.

Member for Burnett, Stephen Bennett said the funds for pulse research and development (R&D) were great news for primary producers in the Burnett electorate.

"This is about putting local farmers on the front foot," Mr Bennett said.

"The tiger economies of Asia are hungry for protein and farmers in Burnett electorate will now be even better placed to meet the demand.

"The funds will underpin a partnership with the Queensland University of Technology to help position Queensland as a leading exporter of pulses to India and Asia."

Mr Bennett said the $4.8 million investment by the Newman Government would be used by QUT to attract a global leader in pulses research, build a specialised glasshouse for pulses, undertake commercialisation and technology transfer to the farming sector and undertake R&D in the four key areas of:

• Genetic crop improvement (breeding, pre-breeding, biotechnology);
• The improvement of salinity and drought tolerance of tropical pulse varieties;
• Integrated pest management (insect, disease, weeds); and
• Farm management practices

The fast-growing Asia economies wanted more protein and literally millions of tonnes a year of plant-based proteins, such as pulses, which up till now had been considered a secondary crop in Queensland and had not received the policy attention or investment from governments that they deserved.

"We want to develop more adaptable varieties and better farming practices so that we increase our total area under pulses and increase yields," Mr Bennett said.

"We'll do that by developing varieties that are disease and drought-tolerant and able to handle higher levels of soil salinity, for example.

"We need to adopt world's best growing and storage management practices, such as intercropping, using short duration seeds, treating for storage pests, and increasing the pulse processing infrastructure."

Mr Bennett said the State Budget had delivered on key commitments to grow and support the agriculture pillar of the economy and will help foster sustainable economic growth for Queensland.

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