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Heard of guli or ganalay? These native grains could be the future of Australian farming

Callan Morse -

The native grains industry is being strengthened thanks to a partnership between a proud Gamilaroi man and university research team.

Les Knox, an agricultural entrepreneur who recently founded Garaah Gundal has partnered with the University of Sydney to share knowledge, revitalise country and help grow the emerging native grains industry in north-west New South Wales.

As part of the project, Mr Knox plans to lead a harvest collaboration project with local farmers designed to modernise Indigenous native grain processing and produce flour from traditional grain varieties.

Pending favourable weather, grain growers in New South Wales' north-west are expecting a bumper harvest, which traditionally begins in January.

Mr Knox said this season's harvest provided an opportunity for locals to try traditional foods, a staple widely consumed by First Nations people pre-colonisation.

"There's not going to be a better season for locals to sample and enjoy the delicate flavours of the normal bush foods that have served locals prior to European settlement, and everyone is invited to join the fun," he said.

The individual flavours of native grain varieties have been adapted to compliment many contemporary foods such as breads, biscuits, pizzas and crackers.

The adaptations will be discussed at an upcoming training day at Narrabri's IA Watson Grains Research Centre.

Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with Indigenous people, industry and growers whilst being provided with the latest research to support an economically, culturally, socially and environmentally sustainable native grains industry.

University of Sydney project lead Angela Pattison said the event was the culmination of several years of trial harvests, cultural heritage research, business development and on-farm extension.

"Northwest NSW (Gomeroi and Yuwaalaraay Country) has an international reputation for producing high-quality grains, and it is expected that the locally grown native grains such as guli and ganalay will also quickly gain a reputation for their quality," she said.

"Indigenous people have sustainably managed native grain fields around here for thousands of years and their oversight is vital as this industry emerges," she said.

Dr Pattison said the harvest collaboration would form a basis for partnerships with landholders, industry, processors and retailers to ensure that the economical and environmental benefits of the native grains industry are shared.

"Native millet (guli in Gamilaraay) is worth hundreds of dollars a kilogram," she said.

"However, this grain is more than a commodity â€" it has the potential to sequester carbon, preserve biodiversity and yield an edible grain from the same hectare of land."

The native grains project is supported by New South Wales' North West Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government, AgriFutures Australia, Regional Development Australia and The University of Sydney.

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