A Waikerie-based seed potato company has received a State Government grant for a major three stage expansion, which will help provide a secure source of quality seed potatoes for South Australian growers.
Minister for Regional Development and Agriculture, Gail Gago, said Solan (SA)had been awarded $106,500, from the Riverland Sustainable Futures Fund, to upgrade its capabilities and increase the scale and efficiency of its existing production.
The potato industry is the State’s largest vegetable crop, worth $413 million to the State’s economy.
“The funding will allow Solan to upgrade its tissue culture laboratory and establish a purpose built nursery. This will improve the supply of high quality, disease free early generation plant material for the potato industry,” Ms Gago said.
“Strategically, this expansion project will play an important part in contributing to the State’s food industry, by providing a secure source of quality seed potatoes for local growers.
“The State Government is committed to supporting small to medium sized enterprises with fewer than 99 employees. There are almost 43,000 such businesses, or 32 per cent of South Australia’s total, based in our regions.
“Solan will also provide a key role in the process of rapid introduction of new and improved varieties, from various breeding programs, for use by the South Australian potato industry, to meet evolving consumer demand.
“This project will have far reaching benefits for the local community and the potato industry.”
Director of Solan (SA), Ken Morley, said the company was experiencing increased demand for their product in South Australia, interstate and overseas.
“As one of only seven accredited seed potato (mini-tuber) producers in Australia, this expansion will allow us to improve our market share of mini-tuber production,” Mr Morley said.
“We’ll be able to increase interstate and international export opportunities, take on two new fulltime employees and improve operational efficiency by up to 30 per cent.
“In stage one, we are upgrading our tissue culture laboratory, refrigeration and storage facilities, while stages two and three involve construction of two greenhouses.”
The project, worth a total of $220,000, is expected to be completed by late 2012.