Gubinge group success insights ripe for picking

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Carly LadenBroome Advertiser
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The Kakadu plum (aka Gubinge) has been used by Aboriginal people as a traditional food and medicine for thousands of years.
Camera IconThe Kakadu plum (aka Gubinge) has been used by Aboriginal people as a traditional food and medicine for thousands of years. Credit: NAAKPA, Supplied

The success story of an alliance of Kakadu plum producers is set to be shared on the national stage.

Broome woman Pat Torres will tell bush food industry members the story of the Northern Australia Aboriginal Kakadu Plum Alliance at the first National Indigenous Bush Food Symposium in Sydney next week.

Formed in August last year, NAAKPA comprises eight Aboriginal-owned enterprises from across the Kimberley and Northern Terr-itory growing Kakadu plums or, as they are known in WA, gubinge.

NAAKPA was formed to consolidate the gubinge supply chain and give the small enterprises involved in harvesting the fruit the power to commercialise it sustainably.

Within its first year, NAAKPA quickly became one of the largest traditional owner-led bush food supply chains in the country after harvesting more than 20 tonnes of whole fruit, with an estimated farm-gate value of $600,000.

Ms Torres, who has been involved in the bush food sector for 30 years, said the alliance had provided structure and much-needed support to indigenous enterprises in the industry.

“As small individual enterprises, we didn’t have the ability to guarantee supply or be responsive to demand, but we now have a co-ordinated network and we can fill orders as a group,” she said. “For us, it’s not just a commercial commodity. Harvesting our bush foods is a way to maintain culture and preserve our identity.

“The main reason NAAKPA has been successful is because it’s led by Aboriginal people — we make the decisions because we have the traditional knowledge.”

Ms Torres hopes to teach attendees how to protect family and culture while growing a commercial bush food business.

“Every bush food has its own creation story, its own song and dance, and cultural knowledge that has been handed down by our ancestors for thousands of years,” she said.

“The challenge for us is bringing our ancient foods into a contemporary industry while maintaining our connection to our culture.

“We have to respect the plant, acknowledge our ancestral spirits, preserve the species and protect our country.”

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