What Mi Marrarl Means To The Thamarrurr Region
“This fruit came from God, He planted this for us. For all people, Aboriginal people, White people” – Warra Paula Jongmin
Senior traditional owners and community members of the Thamarrurr region were engaged before the beginning of the Kakadu plum season to express their thoughts and opinions on what the plum business means to them and the importance of sustainability.
Commonly referred to as the ‘Kakadu plum’ to the rest of the world but more affectionately as ‘Mi Marrarl’ to the people of the Wadeye region, it’s not hard to see how such a small plum can garner such huge attention.
With the plum itself ranking amongst the highest in content of vitamin C and recent superfood trends, the demand has grown quickly and Thamarrurr Development Corporation and PWAC are working together with the community to ensure that the project is sustainable by supplying staff to coordinate the plum harvest, to pay the plum pickers, to sell all plums and to supply vehicles for transportation.
“If we keep working in the Plum business we can make money to help Wadeye. We can lift things up.” – Warra Paula Jongmin
In 2019 more than 11,700 kilograms of plum were collected. The harvest finished up early in the season because of the lack of space to store all of the plums collected, and because of the lack in sales data, TDC and PWAC had no indication of whether or not they could sell all of the plums collected. But sell they did, and at $30 a kilo.
An extra 1,500kg were sent off to be made into puree and powder to allow for sales to those who don’t need whole plums, and 1,400kg of plums still remain in storage.
The money made in sales totalled to $264,000 and $241,520 of that money will be used to cover the costs of the production operation.
The $22,480 profits will go back into the plum business in the means of:
1. Upgrading the freezers to handle more plums. 2. Purchasing more trays, tubs and crates to hold more plums.
3. Purchasing better equipment for lifting / moving heavy plums crates.
4. Investing in more transport support to clan areas that are further away.
5. Support to make a local product from mi marrarl e.g. soap, jams.
“We don’t cut down the trees, we just collect the plum. The trees need to be left for the future.” – Kungay Anna Karui
The plum tree is of high significance to the Elders of Wadeye and it is only with their permission that the Mi Marrarl can be annually harvested. The Elders allow the pickers to continue their work if they “Do it the right way and don’t destroy the trees.”
The sustainability of the plum tree is incredibly important, to preserve them for the harvests of next year and the years to come, to preserve them for the next generation of harvesters, and the generation after that.
“With permission, go out and pick up all the Mi Marrarl you like. But don’t touch or break the trees.” Mikurrin David Kundair”