KAI plans grains, cotton, citrus trees on Carlton Plains

The development is the first stage of the Chinese company’s plans for a 10,000 hectare agri development on Carlton Plains, which it acquired from Terra Firma-owned Consolidated Pastoral Company last year.

Chinese company Kimberley Agriculture Investment has submitted plans to Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency to develop more than 3,000 hectares of land for grains, cotton, citrus and mango trees on its Carlton Plains site.

The development is the first stage of the company’s plans for the 476,000 hectare property in Western Australia it bought for a reported A$100 million ($80 million; €67.5 million) from Terra Firma-owned Consolidated Pastoral Company last year. As part of the deal, 90 percent of the property’s non-arable grazing land was leased back to CPC.

KAI, an investment company owned by Chinese real estate firm Shanghai Zhongfu, will sell the produce grown on the land into the Chinese market.

The company plans to begin work on the development in April 2018, according to a description of the project filed by KAI to the EPA.

“The development of the land parcel is to be undertaken for the purposes of perennial and annual cropping, including grains, cotton and horticulture (which may include citrus and/or mango trees or other tree crops). Stage 1 of Carlton Plain will comprise a combination of surface and pressurized irrigation technologies, for the purpose of growing food and fiber crops. This includes perennial (tree) crops which may incorporate horticulture and/or forestry options,” the filing said.

The project will see the company undertake a significant program of infrastructure development, including the building of roads, farm houses, storage facilities, hillside drains and the laying of water pipelines.

The company says that over the next decade it will “seek to clear and develop a total of 9,948 hectares, or 62% of the Carlton Plain freehold area, in order to develop an initial 6,443 hectares of irrigated farmland and 1,015 hectares of perennial tree crops.” It also has plans to raise 70,000 head of cattle.

The seven day period for public comment ended on July 30, with the EPA now deciding whether or not the proposal requires an environmental impact assessment.

Chinese investment in Australian agricultural land has been controversial, with the government last year blocking the sale of one of Australia’s largest beef producers, S Kidman & Co, to a Chinese dairy company. According to a KPMG report, Chinese investment in Australia grew 60 percent to $15 billion in 2015.