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    Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    Donkey deal with China could reap millions

    Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Donkey deal with China could reap millions

    Picture this: a balmy afternoon in Beijing, donkey steaks sizzling on the barbeque, a little romance in the air aided by some traditional Chinese medicine made from donkey skins.

    Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim Mulherin said the best part of this scenario is the donkey has been imported from Australia.

    “It is yet another potential export success story for Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF),” the Minister said.

    “After months of negotiation China has signed a trade protocol, so for the very first time Australian wild donkey meat and edible skins can be exported directly into China.

    Mr Mulherin said the breakthrough came after a major cooperative effort by stakeholders.

    “QPIF, AQIS, Safe Food Queensland and the exporter and processor involved, have worked closely together since February 2008 to make this happen,” he said.

    “This is a great diversification opportunity for the macropod industry because it’s possible to process the donkeys at existing kangaroo abattoirs.

    “Ultimately this emerging donkey trade could mean dozens of new jobs for harvesters and processors and more than 20 million dollars into our economy,” Mr Mulherin said.

    QPIF emerging industries development officer officer Nicholas Swadling said the benefits could also flow much wider than Queensland.

    “The majority of Australia’s wild donkeys are found in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia,” he said.

    “The exporter we have been working with is based in Brisbane and will process and export the donkey meat and skins from Queensland, but most of the donkeys will have to be sourced from inter-state.

    “While the signing of the protocol with China has given stakeholders confidence, the next step is to commence trials to ensure the industry can be commercially viable.

    “Transport and refrigeration costs will be heavy and harvesting donkeys from out of the way places is going to present challenges.

    “We also need to investigate how many processors are interested in coming on board and if enough donkeys can be sustainably sourced from the wild herd to meet the huge Chinese demand.

    “Stemming from that issue is the question of whether donkeys might be suitable as farmed animals in some areas.”

    All going well, Mr Swadling said Australian donkey meat would soon be hitting the woks in China and Australian donkey skins will be used in traditional Chinese medicine in a product designed to increase the female libido.

    Editors note: pics of wild donkeys available

    Media: 32396530