AAM Investment Group to expand cropping in Northern Territory

AAM will develop the Keep Plains site and expand the Ord River Irrigation Scheme over the next several years.

AAM Investment Group has been named as preferred developer for an expansion of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme in the Northern Territory.

The Brisbane-headquartered asset manager announced last week that it won the right to develop the 67,500-hectare Keep Plains Agricultural Development site, the NT’s single largest land release for agricultural development.

AAM managing director Garry Edwards said in a statement that the firm anticipates undertaking a staged development process on the site, commencing with dryland farming operations before transition to irrigated farming over time. Crops produced could then include mangoes, bananas, nut trees and maize, as well as other fruit and vegetables.

“This is a monumental opportunity to grow food production in northern Australia that will see multi-tens of millions of dollars invested in the East Kimberley region over coming years, and we thank Northern Territory Land Corporation for entrusting us with the important work of expanding the Ord Irrigation Scheme into the NT,” he said.

“While it may take up to two to three years before production begins, we are excited to add this greenfield asset to our diverse portfolio of agricultural enterprises.”

A spokeswoman for AAM confirmed to Agri Investor that the firm would make investments in the site through its Pastoral Development Trust, a vehicle that was established in 2018 to acquire Legune Station, a circa 280,000ha property in the NT near the Keep Plains site.

The firm runs a large-scale cattle operation at Legune as well as leasing 106,000ha of the property to Seafarms Group, the developer of Project Sea Dragon, one of the world’s largest integrated land-based prawn farms.

AAM may also invest in Keep Plains via its Diversified Agriculture Fund, a vehicle established in January 2020 that has grown to hold more than A$400 million ($284 million; €248 million) of assets across sites in four Australian states, covering the poultry, grain, cotton, beef, lamb and softwood sectors.

As a firm, AAM’s total asset portfolio has now reached A$647 million, with the firm planning to undertake a further fundraise in March or April 2022.