The outstanding features of Kimberley agriculture are the large number of pastoral stations and the Ord River horticulture developments. There are 140 agricultural establishments in the region, covering 12.7 million hectares.
The Ord produces a wide variety of crops that are exported around the world.
The value of agriculture production has fluctuated over the years. In 1994/95, the value was $71.6 million, $126.8 million in 2000/01, $95.9 million in 2003/04 and $186.7 million in 2008-09. The total value of agriculture is largely split between crops and livestock, dominated by the beef cattle industry.
Crop production is dominated by the Region’s largest irrigated agricultural project, the Ord River Irrigation Area, located near Kununurra. There are also horticultural activities undertaken in the West Kimberley, near Broome and Derby.
East Kimberley – Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA)
In 2008-09, the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia estimated the total value of production of the ORIA to be more than $101 million. The largest component was sandalwood accounting for $65.3 million.
Other Irrigated Farm activity includes and their estimated value in 2008-09 melons $2.6 million, pumpkins $2.4 million, mangoes $6.7 million, citrus $2.0 million, chickpea $1.0 million, chia $2.6 million, Hybrid seed $ 3.8 million and other $15.1 million.
The expansion of land available for agriculture serviced by water from Lake Argyle represents a significant opportunity for growers and investors seeking to establish themselves in the region.
West Kimberley – Horticulture
There is a relatively small horticulture industry operating near Broome and Derby in the West Kimberley currently producing mangoes, melons, bananas and irrigated pasture seeds. The La Grange ground water resource to the south of Broome may provide significant agricultural opportunities.
The pastoral industry is one of the Region’s most established industries, with the first herds arriving in the 1880s following the overland movement of cattle from Queensland and New South Wales.
The Department of Agriculture reports that there are an estimated 100 pastoral stations in the Region. The value of cattle disposals from the Region was $139 million in 2008-09, which made up 74% of the total value of agriculture. The Department also estimates that the Kimberley herd of beef cattle is around 600,000, representing around 30 per cent of the total State herd.
Cattle is exported through the Broome and Wyndham ports.