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Chinese taste for almonds drives Aussie region's horticulture boom

(Xinhua)    10:31, December 13, 2019

SYDNEY, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Horticulture in the Australian State of Victoria's Murray-Mallee region has expanded at its fastest rate in 10 years, half of which was almond crop, driven by a surge in demand from China.

Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville released a report on Friday which tracks irrigation expansion in the Murray-Mallee, showing an area increase of 2,470 ha -- half of which were the relatively water efficient, almonds.

"It's great to see that despite ongoing dry conditions, plantings in the Mallee region are thriving and irrigators are really thinking about how they're using their water," Neville said.

The flurry of interest in planting almonds was driven by a surge in exports to China, along with continued solid trade with India.

A trade dispute between China and the U.S. saw tariffs on Californian almonds increase by up to 50 percent this year, while tariffs on Australian almonds into China reduced to zero under a free trade agreement.

The developments saw Aussie almond exports to China increase by 20 times in just one year -- from 600 tonnes kernel weight equivalent (KWE) between March 1 and Feb. 28 in 2017/18, to 11,860 tonnes (KWE) for the same period in 2018/19.

While India remained the biggest purchaser of Australian almonds, at 15,155 (KWE), the tariffs on American almonds have given Aussie producers a great chance to become established in the Chinese market.

Already the Murray-Mallee region is home to the Mallee Almond Blossom Festival, witnessing the largest almond blossom in the southern hemisphere, which next year looks set to be the biggest ever.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Shi Xi, Bianji)

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