Cane Growers Working to Set the Record Straight

Queensland farmers are helping to set the record straight as part of an initiative that recognises sugarcane growers for their positive farming practices and contribution to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Project Cane Changer is a CANEGROWERS initiative helping the sugar industry to embrace continued innovation and best management practice. Funded by the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science, the project first rolled out in the Innisfail district in February 2017, led locally by the Innisfail CANEGROWERS Board chaired by Joseph Marano.

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“Growers in Innisfail have really embraced the project," Joseph says. "It is a different way of encouraging the public to understand the sugarcane industry in Innisfail.”

“Because of the project, we now have government and sugarcane growers working together. We are keen to continue working with the project, the mill and other industry bodies for a positive future for the sugarcane industry.”

A year on, more than 180 growers representing all six cane growing districts in the Wet Tropics have now signed their own Cane Changer Commitment, which asks them to detail farming practices they have changed over the years and to commit to making further changes in line with best management practices.  

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Project leader John Pickering says these commitments are an important way to demonstrate the industry’s positive response to farming practice change.

“Talking with growers we hear all the time about the positive changes they have made over the years. These commitments provide a way to further tell that story,” John said. “Cane Changer is setting the record straight about the industry and we encourage all growers to participate to help make the story stronger.”

Cane Changer is developed in partnership with each district’s local CANEGROWERS board to address local priority areas. In Mossman for example, the project team invited growers from around the district to have their say on local industry issues, including the topical issue of the future of the Mossman Mill.

The Mossman event was run in partnership with representatives from ACFA, the NextGen program and the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP) and was attended by more than 30 growers from around the region.

CANEGROWERS Mossman Chairman, Drew Watson, believes events like these are an important opportunity for growers to stay informed and have their say about what is happening in their district.

“It was great to see such a large turnout for this event as there are a number of topical issues around Mossman at the moment,” Drew said. “We really appreciated everyone’s willingness to get involved and as a result, we are already planning the next Cane Changer event to continue the discussion.”

Across the districts the project has run a variety of sessions designed to foster cooperation between industry groups, facilitate peer-to-peer learning between younger and older growers and highlight the important role that women and families have on farm. These workshops will continue to roll out over the remainder of the year.

To find out more about the project you can visit canechanger.com, speak to a local Smartcane BMP facilitator, or visit your local CANEGROWERS office.

Behaviour Innovation