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THE North Queensland rice industry has the potential to triple its output if SunRice's Brandon Mill is expanded.
The LNP today announced they would bankroll the $10million project should they take government following the October 31 election.
The mill's expansion would allow the processing of 25,000 tonnes of rice per year.
SunRice operations manager Peter McDonnell said the mill expansion would be a game changer for the industry.
"It's been a hard slog here in the north to get the industry up and running," Mr McDonnell said.
"We've been going for six years and SunRice has invested a significant amount of money, so this is going to get us going at full capacity.
"It's a real game-changer."
SunRice group CEO Rob Gordon said the $10 million would allow the company to proceed with stage one of their expansion, to increase production to 25,000 tonnes per annum.
Mr Gordon said it would open the door to their future plans to build an industry of 100,000 tonnes annually.
"There is a huge opportunity to build a new agricultural industry of scale in North Queensland, providing another crop option for farmers and jobs in value-added manufacturing," Mr Gordon said.
Giru rice grower Allan Milan, who is one of the largest producers in North Queensland, said many farmers were eager to diversify into rice, but had been unable to given the lack of processing capacity.
"Currently we're at full capacity year in, year out, so there are a number of growers wishing to come on board and grow rice, but because of the current constraints with storage, they haven't been able to be part of the rice industry," Mr Milan said.
"So this announcement today, would see the expansion of storage to occur and allow many others to grow rice also.
"Their commitment to help us increase the expansion of the rice industry in North Queensland is going to be a real boost to our industry and a real boost to the whole agriculture area in North Queensland."
Burdekin MP Dale Last said the investment would boost North Queensland's agriculture industry by providing a rotational crop and means of diversification for the sugar cane industry.
"The investment will deliver an economic boost of up to up to $30 million for the region, supporting 50 jobs around Ayr and across North Queensland," Mr Last said.
"The Burdekin has great potential for growing rice with 300 days of sunshine and an abundance of underground water creating perfect conditions.
"The expansion of the SunRice mill will also increase storage, handling and processing for other commodities, including mung beans, maize and sorghum."
LNP deputy leader Tim Mander said SunRice had presented a solid case as to why the project was worth of the $10 million government investment.
This article first appeared on www.northqueenslandregister.com.au
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