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Australia’s rice bowl primed for bumper harvest as production lifts tenfold with water

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Australia’s rice bowl — the Riverina in southern New South Wales — is anticipating to ramp up its manufacturing tenfold this season.

SunRice Group chief government Rob Gordon tipped the crop would yield 450,000 paddy tonnes come harvest in autumn.

It could be a marked turnaround from earlier within the 12 months when drought and low water allocations within the Murrumbidgee and Murray valleys led to SunRice receiving its second lowest crop on report at simply 45,000 tonnes, lower than 5 per cent of its market necessities.

However beneficiant rainfall has helped raise catchment dam ranges, boosting normal safety water allocations to 77 per cent within the Murrumbidgee and 43 per cent within the Murray.

A 12 months in the past the Murray had no allocation and the Murrumbidgee simply 6 per cent for normal safety entitlements — the consequences are nonetheless being felt as round half the rice in Australian shops for the time being is imported and is expected to be at 100 per cent come January.

“Whereas it isn’t the 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes we’ve had previously, it is definitely greater than sufficient to cowl all the overheads within the Riverina.

“It additionally means we will service our premium markets offshore once more with Australian rice, which is so valued.

“We additionally welcome the chance to carry Australian rice again to Australian shoppers as nicely.”

Empty shelves in a grocery store.
Grocery store cabinets stripped naked of rice at a grocery store in Wagga Wagga, NSW, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia in March.(ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery)

A difficult but worthwhile 12 months

The SunRice Group launched its half-year monetary outcomes this week, which confirmed it delivered income of $507 million and a revenue after tax of $12.1 million.

“The corporate carried out nicely, given the challenges of COVID-19 and drought, we’re notably happy with the resilience of this end result, ” Mr Gordon stated.

He stated supplied there was no additional deterioration in buying and selling circumstances within the second half of the monetary 12 months, the corporate would be capable to ship a totally franked dividend to shareholders.

For growers, he stated the corporate had flagged they may obtain within the vary $390 to $450 a tonne for medium grain Reisiq rice selection from subsequent Might.

Final season when the corporate was determined to lure irrigators with restricted water to develop the crop, the corporate provided a report value of $750 a tonne for Reisiq.

Rice harvest in Riverina in 2018
SunRice expects 450,000 paddy tonnes of rice might be grown within the Riverina in 2021.(ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery)

Folks energy wanted in Riverina mills

To deal with the forecasted large haul of rice, the SunRice Group is on the hunt for extra mill employees at its Deniliquin and Leeton websites for harvest subsequent autumn.

The corporate, which already employs greater than 2,100 folks throughout its 30 manufacturers and 9 companies, was recruiting 100 harvest casuals to fill the roles of milling operators, packing operators, warehouse operators, hygienists, and tradespersons.

“We’re nonetheless understanding all of the world market we’ll serve subsequent 12 months and which machines we might want to run, so a few of the numbers are nonetheless within the works,” Mr Gordon stated.

“We definitely anticipate operating extra shifts at Deniliquin and Leeton.”

SunRice CEO Rob Gordon and chairman Laurie Arthur.
SunRice CEO Rob Gordon with chairman Laurie Arthur, who grows rice at Moulamein within the southern Riverina.(Picture: SunRice)

This comes on the again of the corporate shedding greater than 200 employees by way of redundancies over the previous two years attributable to drought and low water allocations decreasing milling operations.

“With water allocations enhancing, we are actually seeing the chance to as soon as once more make use of folks within the Riverina.”

Mr Gordon stated the corporate was eager to re-employ employees that had been made redundant.

“We now have acquired rice to course of once more, and we might be delighted to have the ability to get a few of our expert ex-employees to return again into the enterprise.

“That is important, because it saves us in coaching and it additionally rewards folks, who we, sadly, needed to let go along with such small crops. It was by no means about their efficiency or lack of expertise. It was that we did not have rice to course of.”

Moral rice manufacturing paramount

The SunRice Group additionally launched its inaugural fashionable slavery assertion, setting out how the corporate is working to know higher the dangers of contemporary slavery and human rights abuses in its operations and provide chain.

“As we have prolonged our provide chains internationally. We need to guarantee that at any time when a shopper enjoys our product, they know there’s an assurance all the proper ethical and moral issues are achieved all through your entire provide chain,” Mr Gordon stated.

“A contemporary slavery assertion may sound considerably uncommon, however guaranteeing that there is no human trafficking for slavery, or pressured labour or any slave-like practices in provide chains is actually necessary.

“And as we attain out in numerous components of the world, [we have a ] understanding that in our prolonged provide chain, persons are not pressured into labour, that if kids are concerned in something, it is as a result of they’re a part of a household enterprise of being educated and are free to go away and they don’t seem to be being traded.

Sunrice CEO Rob Gordon holds rice in his palm.
SunRice CEO Rob Gordon says says the corporate has delivered a robust set of economic outcomes.(ABC Landline: Sean Murphy)

Mr Gordon stated the corporate had not obtained any proof so far its suppliers had been concerned.

“We’ll be certain that we get this proper and we need to ensure that it’s as diligent because it presumably might be,” he stated.

Spending cash to generate income

In current weeks, the SunRice Group has additionally spent $65 million buying three corporations.

Its subsidiary firm, CopRice, bought the dairy and beef enterprise of Victorian-based producer of livestock merchandise Riverbank Stockfeeds for $5 million.

CopRice may even develop into New Zealand after signing a purchase order settlement to accumulate the dairy vitamin enterprise of Ingham’s, which produces and sells dairy and calf feed merchandise, notably in the important thing Waikato dairy area of the North Island.

The price of the acquisition is $NZ11.5 million and is predicted to be full by March 31.

In the meantime, Riviana Meals, one other arm of the SunRice Group, purchased branded meals importer KJ&Co Manufacturers for $50 million.