With an eye to increasing their revenue stream, cane growers in the Burdekin and Hinchinbrook shires have started incorporating other crops into their rotation.
Burdekin canegrower Allan Milan, who’s on the Agency’s North East Implementation Working Group, said it’s meant a win-win for his business. Further north, Stephen Accornero complements his cane rotations with rice, corn and soybeans with similar success.
Burdekin Shire Mayor Lyn McLaughlan stressed the importance of a broadened economic base to offer more employment opportunities and to help buffer the region against future challenges. Her colleague, Hinchinbrook Shire Mayor Ramon Jayo, believes there are many opportunities for a broader agricultural base, supported by the right infrastructure.
One of the world’s largest food rice companies, SunRice, has also seen the potential for the region, which is well suited to long grain and fragrant varieties. The company has a mill at Brandon in the Burdekin Shire. North Queensland Operations Manager Peter McDonnell said the market demand for the North Queensland product is strong, and the dream is to export the region’s rice to the world.
“Broadening the economic base” is one of the priorities of the region’s long-term recovery strategy, which the Agency developed in close consultation with councils, community groups, business owners and primary producers who were affected by the 2019 North Queensland monsoon trough.
The Australian Government is also supporting 14 of the worst-affected Shires with $58 million in recovery and resilience grants.
The Economic Diversification Grants administered by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) support diversification within and outside the agricultural sector. Round 1 applications are now open, with expressions of interest closing on 19 March 2021. There’s more information on the QRIDA website.