Sundrop Farms greenhouse expansion expected to create 300 jobs in Port Augusta

Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created with expansion of a greenhouse business near Port Augusta in South Australia where seawater is desalinated to irrigate horticultural produce.

Sundrop Farms will have 20 hectares of greenhouses once the expansion is completed and a deal has been struck to supply supermarket chain Coles with tomatoes for the next decade.

The SA Government announced it was committing $6 million from taxpayers to support the expansion.

Premier Jay Weatherill said at least 100 jobs would be created during construction and there would be 200 ongoing jobs.

"What this represents for South Australia is a fantastic employment opportunity for Port Augusta and the surrounding areas," he said.

"We have identified premium food grown in a clean environment as a key economic priority for South Australia and this project is the perfect example of the benefits that can bring.

"Local schools have also begun offering horticulture training to prepare students for potential opportunities that this project will provide."

Sundrop Farms CEO Philip Saumweber said the regional shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels to solar energy for desalination had many benefits.

We've really turned that upside down and used sunlight and seawater for most of our inputs," he said.

"We're able to really provide a competitive price to the Australian consumer."

Boost for horticulture in arid climate

Mr Weatherill praised Sundrop's technological breakthrough which was letting it grow high-quality produce in an arid region using solar energy and desalinated seawater.

He said it was a flagship model for doing business in the state.

SA Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock also welcomed the economic benefits the ground-breaking venture would bring.

""This project is about testing the limits of sustainable production technologies in arid climates using renewable resources," he said.

"It is a tremendous vote of confidence in regional SA that global company Sundrop Farms has based its cutting-edge operations here, exploring leading-edge future-focused technologies for horticulture industries in arid climates."

The expansion is being supported by an investment of more than $150 million in all, some of that from global investment firm KKR.

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