Manuka honey has made headlines for its medical applications in speeding wound recovery and managing bacterial infections.
With the increasing emergence of antibiotic resistance bacteria, treatment via creams, gels and bandages with Manuka honey is becoming ever more valuable.
The demand also spans pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutraceutical and food industries, as well as the medicinal sector.
AgriFutures Australia has partnered with ManukaLife and Kings Park Botanical Gardens to develop premium quality Manuka seed genetics for highly active honey in Western Australia.
The leptospermum plant is endemic to the Australian east coast and New Zealand and Western Australia’s strict biosecurity laws would not permit the introduction of cuttings, seeds or plants.
“Western Australia has very strict biosecurity laws which have worked very well to protect both our bee and plant environments from disease,” said Mr Callander.
“We shipped the material from the University of the Sunshine Coast in petri dishes in a controlled environment straight into Kings Park’s laboratories.”
The project is focused on building a sustainable commercial Manuka honey industry, inclusive of propagation, plantations, growers, apiarists, through to production and product distribution.
ManukaLife and its Western Australia location were chosen for the Manuka honey project because of its science-based approach.
It was also an advantage to have the potential for an extended flowering season, providing a longer and larger production cycle delivering higher yields at lower operating costs during the year.
“The scientists at Kings Park are some of the best in Australia and have had great success in developing attributes in other Australian native species and are leading edge in their approach and capabilities,” said Paul Callander, ManukaLife Managing Director.
Phase one began with ManukaLife sourcing high grade seed stock from New Zealand and working with the University of the Sunshine Coast to source high quality plant material from the Australian east coast.
Today ManukaLife has planted approximately 650 hectares of leptospermum from more than 1,000,000 propagated seedlings in a variety of locations with differing climates around Western Australia.