Christmas lunch would be a bit of a sad affair without the work of Australia’s irrigators says National Irrigators Council (NIC) CEO, Steve Whan.

“Like many people I look forward to this time of year, to fresh summer fruit, crispy fresh vegies and those delicious Christmas extras the fruit mince pies, ice cream, custard and the occasional glass of wine.

“But the table would be a bit bare if it wasn’t for the hard work of Australia’s irrigation farmers and – most importantly in a time of drought – the fact that we store water in dams to ensure we can keep producing.

“In 2017-18 Australian irrigators grew more than 83% (by value) of all our fruit and nuts, 84% of our vegies and more than 90% of grapes.  Without them we’d be missing the fresh fruit salad, roast potatoes, green vegies and salad. The fruit mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding would be off the menu and you’d be struggling to find an Aussie wine to sip.

“44% of our dairy product comes from irrigated agriculture and in drought that becomes even more important – that’s the cream and ice cream for the pavlova.  Of course, you’ll also need sugar to make that pavlova and more than 50% of Australia’s comes from irrigators.

“And what will we be wearing for Christmas day? Cool cotton clothing seems a good bet – 90% of Australian grown cotton comes from irrigation, though as an annual crop it helps us adjust to drought by not being planted when there is no water.

“Of course, if you are wearing cotton grown in Australia you know that it has been grown using 40% less water and 90% less chemicals than many other cotton growing areas (all hot dry climates), and that all the people who worked on growing, picking and processing had fair pay and conditions.

“These figures come from 2017-18 they reflect a year where water was becoming scarce and they show how important it is to store water for the dry times.

“It’s going to be a tough Christmas for many irrigating farmers, the severity of this drought means they now have no irrigation water, for many that means a hot, dusty Christmas with no prospect of decent income.

“So, as we who live in the cities enjoy our Christmas lunch, maybe we should also give a quick thought to the people who have grown the things that help us to enjoy it.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Thursday 19 December 2019