In 2019, the NT Farmers Association engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a feasibility study and business plan into the viability of a modern cotton industry in the Territory. The study suggests that a cotton industry in the Territory has the potential to contribute $15 million in the construction phase and then building up to $200m and sustain an estimated 88 FTE jobs. To effectively achieve this scale of production, processing facilities need to be close to production sites which would be achievable with the establishment of nearby cotton processing facility (Cotton Gin), which is currently being considered as a part of the Northern Territory government’s Katherine Agricultural Precinct. The development of a cotton gin would create a significant manufacturing investment in the region, creating jobs and ongoing training opportunities, as well as providing significant cost savings for northern growers and value adding to the Territory’s beef industry through local feed production. 

Thanks to better genetics and improved agronomy, modern Australian cotton growers now use 40 per cent less water to produce one tonne of cotton lint than 10-15 years ago, with an average irrigation requirement of 6-7 megalitres per hectare. Modern cotton is also genetically modified to reduce the impacts of pests, without heavy chemical use.

Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton with more than 90% of cotton produced being exported, generating an average of $1.9 billion in export revenue annually, and the Territory has an exciting opportunity to be a successful and sustainable player in this sector. 

Paul Burke, CEO NT Farmers Association 

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