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Jobs in pipeline

Thursday, 18th March, 2010

Menindee could be flooded with jobs after agribusiness Tandou said it was considering planting a crop.

Up to 80 extra people could be employed by the Darling River company if it decides to grow a cotton crop which would be its first in five years. Tandou's chief executive officer, Guy Kingwill, said a decision to grow cotton would bring scores of new jobs to the district. "It could mean anywhere between 20 and 80 people when you get to ginning," Mr Kingwill said. "With contracting services and repairs and maintenance it will be quite significant. "The opportunity to bring work and employment back to the region is (aligned) to the value of the (water)."

While Tandou has more recently been known as a water trader, cropping was back on the agenda following a big drop in the price of water and an increase in the global price for cotton. Mr Kingwill said yesterday that a decision on whether a cotton crop would be planted was some way off with Anzac Day critical to the decision making process."It's the date of the winter break in the southern basin," he said."If there's a dry winter, the price of water can go up again.

"A big winter break in the southern basin would generate low prices of water. "It's an economic decision around ... the price of cotton on the global market, the price of wheat on the domestic market and the value of water. "Water pricing has come back significantly in the last number of weeks - the change in the water market has been very significant." Heavy rain in the Darling River catchment in NSW and Queensland led the NSW Water Commissioner to allow the first flow in eight years into Lake Menindee on Monday.

Mr Kingwill said that would mean water would soon become available at the farm's levy bank. "This announcement is great news for Tandou and means that gravity fed water will be available at the Tandou Farm levy bank," he said. "This allows the company to fully assess the financial feasibility and related returns of cropping for the first time in many years. "This now provides us with the opportunity to reconsider our options of continuing to trade out water allocations or to using this water for crop production." While there has been no crop since 2005/06 when a cotton and small wheat crop were grown, Mr Kingwill said the farm was prepared to sow a crop come August if that was decided.

"It would be August/September before a crop will go in, so there's a little bit of time," he said. "(But) the farm will be ready to go." Meanwhile the rain has officially pushed part of the Western Division out of drought.

The latest NSW Government figures show that part of the division moved from drought declared into marginal. More than 39 per cent of the state remains in drought, while 29.6 per cent is marginal and 30.6 per cent is satisfactory.

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