Crops 'the future' for Midlands

David Williams spoke at an AgInstitute water trading forum in Launceston yesterday.
David Williams spoke at an AgInstitute water trading forum in Launceston yesterday.

IRRIGATION will produce crops yet to be considered in the Midlands within five years, according to a man who invested $10 million in Tasmanian water.

Investment banker David Williams made headlines in financial circles last year when he spent $10 million on water rights in the Midlands Water scheme.

``The first thing that struck me was how Tasmania was investing in expanding water infrastructure while elsewhere in the country they're buying it back,'' Mr Williams told an AgInstitute water trading forum in Launceston yesterday.

``It struck me as ironic that water was being bought back at just over $1800 a megalitre and here we are creating new water at $1170 a megalitre.

``I thought, when the water was first offered, that farmers wouldn't take it up because they had been doing things like fat lambs for generations, and decided to step in and take anything that's left over.

``I did it because I believe, through my corporate advisory practice, that this food security thing is real.''

Mr Williams said that Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Research Economics said that Australian food production would rise by 140 per cent by 2050.

He said Tasmania was likely to at least share in that surge.

``I believe that within five years of the (water) schemes being finished, we're going to see a 100 per cent increase in food production in this state alone and an astronomical change in land use in the Midlands,'' he said.

``Wealthy Midlands farmers who didn't take water are going to look like poor relations in five or 10 years time.''

Mr Williams said that the government needed to bring the country's top horticulturalists to Tasmania to show then what was available in the Midlands.