By Zara Boshier |Master of Agricultural Science, University of Queensland

Project: Exploring the Applications of NIR Spectroscopy in an Indigenous-led Wild Harvested Kakadu Plum Value Chain

Zara recently travelled to Darwin as part of the CRCNA’s Improving the efficiency of Kakadu Plum/ Gubinge value chains to grow a robust and sustainable industry project team. The following is an overview of a workshop the team held with various stakeholders and Indigenous enterprise partners.

David Hewitt from Wild Orchard Kakadu Plum updating the group on the progress and plans and needs for his enterprise at the workshop held in Darwin.

Enveloped in the tropical Darwin warmth with birds squawking around us, we gathered around a long table and reflected on how fortunate we were to be able to meet face-to-face. Day two of our Darwin trip began with our workshop. Our outdoor location set the scene and pace for an open and productive discussion where our Indigenous enterprise partners (Twin Lakes Cultural Park, Kaiyu Superfoods, and Wild Orchard Kakadu Plum) provided an update on their activities and identified how we can help them achieve their next goals.

The partners reflected on the value of scientific research and the significance of their respective relationships with the CRCNA and ARC teams and how these factors have given them confidence to pursue their bushfood ventures. They noted that scientific research has helped direct attention to bushfoods by increasing awareness of their impressive properties. The partners spoke with passion about their nurture of country and how in return, country gives back to them. Their traditional land management practices have resulted in increases in local Australian wildlife populations, such as the Gouldian finch. The partners talked about the importance of their wild harvest enterprises as it provides a vehicle for them to continue to practice their culture and traditions and care for country whilst supporting their respective communities. Their goals are to be self-sustaining within their communities, on country, and to maintain the success of their enterprises to ensure the availability of jobs for future generations.

Increasing Indigenous representation in the bushfood value chain was identified as an important goal. Whilst a higher percentage of Indigenous enterprises engage in wild harvest, a significantly lower percentage of Indigenous businesses engage in the remainder of activities along the value chain. The partners also agreed on the importance of supporting Indigenous-owned enterprises and the practice of wild harvest. Supporting Indigenous enterprises not only ensures the continued success of the existing enterprises but also provides a source of encouragement to aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs looking to enter the bushfood value chain. The importance of partnerships and trust within the value chain was also highlighted. Enterprises also spoke of their appreciation of partnerships formed with non-Indigenous businesses like Loving Earth and Roogenic in the value chain.

While each enterprise identified business-specific needs associated with their respective operations, they collectively agreed that continued support from the research team helps invigorate and increase awareness of the bushfood industry. They also identified HACCP certification as a business goal to enable increased market access by incorporating an internationally recognised framework for safety and hazard management into their existing practices.

We were fortunate to be able to bring together the Indigenous enterprise partners, the CRCNA, Kindred Spirits Enterprises, and members of the value chain Loving Earth and Roogenic. The sharing of diverse perspectives and knowledge of the industry provided for a productive and illuminating discussion.

The CRCNA  supported Zara’s travel to the Northern Territory through its educational bursary program.