AN ambitious plan to tap into the lucrative health and wellness sector is being established on the Atherton Tablelands with a cooperative forming to investigate growing organic turmeric and gingers.
The project has the support of Growcom and is the brainchild of Rhonda Sorensen of local biomedical company, SassyBio.
Ms Sorensen said her interest in medicinal ginger was piqued when she fell ill in Bali two years ago.
She has since researched the potential to establish an industry on the Tablelands.
"Our long-term vision is to have a cooperative of farmers who grow a range of ginger and turmeric for the fresh market as rhizomes, and also to be processed into a range of functional foods," Ms Sorensen said.
"Ginger and turmeric are great for our health and my interest is definitely in the medicinal side and the health and well being aspects.
"It is about making sure we keep the standards high.
"If we could grow them organically on the Tablelands and capitalise on the clean green Australian-made reputation to hit the high-value global medicinal market, it is all about value adding."
Ms Sorensen said the discussions had generated quite a buzz, with many people interested in the concept.
"If we start working together as a collective then we have so much more strength, perhaps for investors or government funding, there is interest in a whole different range of products to make us stable in the future."
Growcom Hort360 Innovation Coach Steve Tiley said there was strong potential for a collaborative group of growers, distributors, and community and government stakeholders to invest, grow, process and value-add ginger and turmeric products in the region.
"Ginger and turmeric are crops that have high-value and a small environmental footprint," Mr Tiley said.
"With the health and wellness sector predicted to be the next trillion dollar industry, demand for commercial ginger and turmeric products is rapidly rising. There is an opportunity to tap into the medicinal markets with TGA listed products sold both domestically and globally."
Tablelands local Penny Johnson her family invented to become involved in the emerging industry.
"Ginger and turmeric as a new and innovative ag-industry could bring economic and social benefits to the southern Tablelands region which used to rely on the dairy industry," Ms Johnson said.
"As it becomes established it could encourage new support services and foster new young growers as it scales up to participate in global markets.
"It is a crop that grows really well in these climates and soil, and there is demand not only for culinary uses but also medicinal applications.
"It is an opportunity to seriously explore a viable, vibrant industry growing and processing it here on the Tablelands.
"It is already renowned as a culinary herb and medicinal qualities are quite well known but the economic potential is yet to be realised."
Ms Johnson said the location of the Tablelands near Cairns and Townsville and access to international airports and road networks made it the ideal locality to develop the industry.
A meeting will be held at the Malanda RSL on Wednesday, April 24, from 9.30am to gauge interest in the project.