AGRONICO'S expanded coolstore in Tasmania will hold almost 14,500 tonnes of potatoes, opening the service to more Tasmanian farmers.
A 1.6 million federal government Regional Jobs and Investment Package Business Innovation Grant contributed to "The Agronico Project" with the construction coming in on time and on budget.
Chief executive officer, Robert Graham, said the project encompassed a 56 metre by 67m extension to the coolstore, hopper covers, and a machinery shed.
"Completion of this project will enable Agronico to double production capacity, access new interstate and export opportunities, and support the region's potato industry, increasing productivity," he said.
"The coolstores provide ideal storage conditions for potatoes until shipping.
"The extension adds eight rooms to the existing ten and we've continued to use the most advanced technology available.
"By varying the internal condition of the coolstore extension, which mirrors the original space, we can expand the variety of fruit and vegetables we accommodate.
"This includes carrots, broccoli and onions, the facility is also ideal for storing berry canes and corn.
"The hopper covers have made a difference to the quality and life of freshly harvested potatoes by protecting them from frost and rain.
"Having a cover over the hoppers also meant harvest was completed in record time, processing around 300 tonnes per day, and we are now assisting other farmers in the region with their downloading and grading,"
For Agronico, the quick harvest resulted in a quick turnaround in sales with most varieties selling within a month.
"Increasing the production of seed potatoes creates a flow-on effect for farmers and contractors around the state," Mr Graham said.
"For customers, the product is better because it has been less stressed by carbon dioxide buildup and yields will be higher."
As the export markets for Tasmanian seed potatoes develop, it is important that only the very best quality is offered to overseas customers.
Agronico will be able to provide the high quality storing and packaging in an export-accredited facility, to meet this export opportunity.
This will assist other Tasmanian seed growers to enter the export market, in turn benefiting the Tasmanian economy.
"An important benefit of the expansion and increased production is the opportunity for more local employment. Agronico's permanent staff has grown from less than 10 to almost 20 in the past five years, as well as up to 16 casual employees. Agronico is currently looking for additional staff to help with the growth," Mr Graham said.
Agronico currently services the needs of some of the larger mainland potato businesses, and the completion of the project reinforces their ability to meet these needs and look to other Australian and export markets.
The future looks bright for Tassie potatoes.
- Copy supplied by Agronico.