Australian drought crisis

Sikh farmers fight to save their crops

The devastating effects of Australia's unprecedented drought are spreading further through the eastern states, with coastal farmers now suffering as well. On the New South Wales mid north coast, time is running out for a group of farmers from the Sikh community to save their crops.

Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid north coast is famous for the Big Banana. But it has in fact been the home of the country's berry production since the turn of the century, supplying 80 per cent of Australia's total output of blueberries.

The paddocks in the region look lush with green vegetation, but communities are reeling from the country's worst drought in more than 50 years.

A farmer for 37 years, Sid Sidhu says this dry spell is among the worst he has experienced. "It's very hard at the moment. Everything looks green on top, but when you dig down deeper it's very dry underneath.”

Sid Sidhu could lose up to half a million dollars in his blueberry investment - which includes 26,000 blueberry plants - due to the drought. He and his sons are making better return on their cucumbers, which are grown in hydroponic houses and don't rely on natural rainfall or soil. But their water supply is severely depleted.

"We're suffering right now,” Mr Sidhu told SBS News. “We're starting to already cut water. We're starting to think about pruning our berries so we can conserve some water. If we don't get rain in the next month or six weeks, we're going to run out of water. Full stop."

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