Future Fund director joins agribusiness minnow with big water plans

By Brad Thompson for Financial Review 

Future Fund director John Poynton sees fresh water as a vastly undervalued and under-utilised asset in Western Australia at a time when political and industry debate is raging in the eastern states over allocations from the Murray-Darling system.

In a surprise move, Mr Poynton has agreed to chair the advisory board of Perth-based agribusiness minnow Alterra which has big plans for water rights in Western Australia.

Mr Poynton believes it will become a political imperative to get on with water infrastructure projects and develop a water market in WA, where the sale of Jasper Farms and its 360 hectares of avocado trees to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund for almost $180 million in 2017 provided a taste of the investment opportunities in the state’s south-west.

Alterra, formerly known as Carbon Conscious, has ambitions to help farmers and horticulturalists move into to high-value tree crops and develop their businesses to the point they can emulate Jasper Farms as suitable targets for mainly North American institutional investors sniffing around the region.

A big part of the plan is to…read on.