More Kakadu plums a win for everyone

By Territory Natural Resource Management

In the Northern Territory’s top end, harvesting Kakadu plums (Terminalia ferdinandiana) has always been popular.

Long prized by Indigenous people for their nutritional and healing properties, people who can’t pick their own bush food are also developing a taste for it.

Their demand for the fruit, which is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, lutein, folate, zinc, magnesium, and calcium has the aroma of stewed apples and pears, and is increasingly sought after by Australian businesses.

Thamarrurr Rangers Maureen Simon and Angus Melpi with re-sprouted Kakadu Plum tree.

In the Thamarrurr region, nine hours’ from south-west Darwin, Wadeye community members quickly realised becoming a commercial supplier could be profitable, but also came with risks.

Some were concerned that heavy handed harvesting could damage healthy trees, while others questioned how they could move from harvesting for local consumption to bigger scale activities.

With over 100 Wadeye community members and their families involved in the annual harvesting of plums, the stakes were high.

With funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, Territory Natural Resource Management partnered with the Thamarrurr Rangers and local firm EcOz Environmental Consultants to help find a way to grow the industry sustainably.

Community members were involved in researching the effects of poor harvesting techniques.

A video about the Kakadu plum story and how to avoid issues that can arise from poor harvest practices was produced, while a monitoring system was put in place to stop pickers from damaging trees.

With the new system in place, 157 pickers completed the induction course and harvested 5.4 tonnes of Kakadu plums in 2016.

While the majority of pickers followed best practice protocols, where damage did occur, Traditional Owners asserted their rights to close some areas.

Wadeye community members have praised the program which now earns money for purposeful work and lets them share knowledge among family members who go picking together. For more information visit

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