Market path to Asia

(above) Loading export wheat at Walgett Special One Cooperative: 'Special grain to the world

The 'Special One' in Walgett Special One Cooperative refers to the graingrower marketing cooperative's forced foundation in 1987, when harvest problems resulted in a difficult-to-market, 35,000-tonne parcel of wheat that had high protein with undesirably high screenings.

The cooperative formed and labelled the line of wheat 'Walgett Special One' and achieved $35It more for the grain than had been offered through the mainstream wheat-marketing system.

The current joint venture with Jossco has the cooperative well and truly in the export business, with 35,000 tonnes of chickpea and 50-60,000 tonnes of wheat going to a spread of markets in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand over the last 12 months.

WSOC has 550 members now, with numbers nearly tripling in the last three years. The current staff of eight moved into renovated offices in the former Winchcombe Carson building earlier this year, while the Beanbri initiative has created another 16 or so jobs.

A separate, subsidiary company runs the grain-handling operation, and another is being set up to handle research for WSOC, initially as part of the GRDC's Western Farming Systems project but with plans to carry out more research in its own right.

Discussions have already been held with the University of Sydney's Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri about possible breeding of wheat varieties to cope with the extreme finishes of Walgett's semi-arid climate (average 500-550 mm rainfall).