The Kalfresh-led plan for an integrated Agricultural Industrial Precinct at Kalbar is a step closer to becoming a reality.

The revised draft Impact Assessment Report is now being considered by the Queensland Office of the Coordinator General and other government stakeholders, including the Scenic Rim Regional Council.

The project, which would see 16 rural industrial lots established on a 40ha Cunningham Highway site next to Kalfresh’s existing facilities, was first declared a Queensland Government Coordinated Project in May 2019.

Since then the state’s coordinated projects team has managed the complexities related to the approvals required for the integrated agri-industrial hub.

Kalfresh CEO Richard Gorman says in the time since declaration, Kalfresh and its consultants have finalised and refined many aspects of the project proposal, including securing a high-priority water allocation and an End of Waste Code to allow digestate to be used for crop nutrition.

“What we are proposing for the Scenic Rim Agricultural Industrial Precinct (SRAIP) includes many firsts, in particular establishing a renewable energy facility that would convert food and agricultural waste into green power, green gas and a bio-fertiliser,” he says.

“The model we have proposed is well established in Europe and the US, where agricultural regions are benefiting from this new source of reliable, renewable energy which values agricultural waste products. However it’s new for Queensland and that has meant working closely with government to put in place systems and regulations to manage the process, in particular the use of the digestate as a synthetic fertiliser replacement.

“Our community could potentially be the first in Queensland to be connected to baseload green energy 24/7, and that energy would be generated from crops grown in local paddocks. The model has huge positive implications for the entire farming community and other rural regions.”

The concept at the heart of the SRAIP is to return value-adding and manufacturing of agricultural products to the productive region. The integrated hub would enable agricultural diversification and innovation and would enable local landowners to access new markets for their produce.

“This is about taking the raw ingredients and being able to turn them into a range of value-added products such as ready-meals, sauces and drinks and even nutritional products,” says Mr Gorman.

“Location is key to our concept because it removes cost and creates efficiencies in the supply and logistics chain. This enables the region’s agricultural sector to be competitive both domestically and internationally.

“COVID showed us all the importance of having resilient sustainable supply chains that are immune to border closures. We believe the project will deliver new opportunities for secure, skilled employment, career paths for young people and a prosperous future for local agriculture.
“Our company mission is to create a better farming future for our community, consumers and the environment and this project will deliver on that mission at many levels.”

The SRAIP Revised Impact Assessment Report is being assessed by the of Office of the Coordinator General and while there are no statutory timeframes, the project evaluation is expected to be completed later this year.