Western Australia is shaping up as the nation's leading producer of a small apple-like fruit called jujubes, catering to growing local demand for the popular Asian delicacy.
Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said fresh Western Australian jujubes were now in season and should be available until the end of April at speciality fruit and vegetable retailers and some farmers markets.
"Jujubes are like a small apple or date with a sweet flavour and are one of the most popular fruits in Asia and the Middle East," Mr Baston said.
WA's jujube industry is small but expanding with about 40 growers producing fruit from about 12,500 trees on 20 hectares.
"Almost 3,000 new trees are being planted each year which should significantly boost supplies of the fruit in years to come," the Minister said.
Production is still considered quite small in the State but the bulk of the WA's commercial orchards are less than five years old and many trees have yet to produce fruit.
The jujube's drought and salinity tolerance and multiple uses indicates great potential for many areas of WA.
The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) has embarked on a two-year project to help build the fledgling industry in this State.
The project is funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation with support from the Western Australian Jujube Growers' Association.
"The State Government, through DAFWA, is working with the industry on developing its marketing strategies and opportunities, and building a robust industry with options to deliver the full range of jujube products - fresh, dried and processed fruit," Mr Baston said.
Jujubes are grown in Manjimup, Bridgetown, Donnybrook, Perth Hills, Gidgegannup, Esperance, Denmark, Geraldton, Cue, York, Boddington, Kukerin, Bindoon and Beverley
These fruit are about 3cm long, turn red upon drying and can be added to soups or desserts or eaten as a snack
Minister's office - 6552 5400