David Landini. 2017 rice harvest approximately 850,000 tonnes
The 2017 rice harvest is nearing completion.
The quantity of rice grown in the Murray Valley, Murrumbidgee, and Coleambally Irrigation Areas is expected to be approximately 850,000 tonnes.
The average farm gate price is expected to be between $280-$300 per tonne.
This calculates to a total farm gate value of between $235,000,000 to $255,000,000.
All of this money is spent employing people in the rice growing process, or is retained as profit to the rice grower.
Considering this, the 2017 rice harvest has in fact created between $235,000,000 to $255,000,000 worth of employment, with the large majority in the local production areas.
The 2017 rice harvest is directly related to water availability. After a number of gradual increases, farm water allocation reached 100%, which enabled rice growers to initially sow rice, and then increase plantings.
The 2016 harvest (with very low water allocations) was 244,000 tonnes, mostly grown in the Murrumbidgee and Coleambally Irrigation Areas. This is approximately 28% of the 2017 harvest.
In addition to the farm production, all rice is received at Sunrice (a grower owned co-operative) mills in Deniliquin and Leeton and manufactured into various rice products. The total revenue (income) for Sunrice during the financial year ending in June 2016 was $1.25 billion dollars. It can be expected that due to increased rice receivals in 2017 this value will increase.
The $1.25 billion revenue is the value of wages and profits generated by Sunrice activity, being mainly processing Australian rice. As Sunrice has interstate and international operations, the specific figure relating to Riverina based activities is not currently available, though it is obviously a very significant portion.
The effect that water availability has on rice production and subsequent employment is direct and obvious. Increased water availability since the 2016 rice harvest enabled the quantity grown to increase from 244,000 tonnes to approximately 850,000 tonnes. This translates directly to greatly increased employment and prosperity.
It is for everyone’s benefit in irrigation areas of NSW and Victoria to have as much water available as possible.