Almonds, Cotton, water markets

Water trading reshapes what foods and fibres are grown along the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers

10 July 2018

Clint Jasper, ABC
10 July 2018

Paul Martin established his first almond trees in South Australia’s Riverland region more than four decades ago.

In doing so, he ignored warnings about the local bird life and its appetite for nuts.

“A lot of locals told us the birds will get them all, because the few trees people had, that’s what happened — the birds cleaned them up,” he said.

Those few trees expanded into several orchards and in the past few years had earned Mr Martin some “spectacular returns”.

In recent years, an insatiable overseas demand for crops like almonds, citrus, and table grapes have attracted a flood of investment from local and overseas agribusinesses and pension funds, driving the massive increase in the area devoted to producing them.

The area where almond trees were planted expanded by more than 900 per cent between 2000 and 2016. This was despite one of Australia’s worst droughts between 2001-2009 — and a major corporate disaster, the collapse of Managed Investment Schemes.

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