Families Farming for the Future

This article was originally published in the Cassowary Coast Independent on Thursday 12th July 2018.

The start of the busy sugarcane harvest season and school holidays didn’t deter nearly 20 women from around Tully taking part in workshops last Wednesday designed to enhance the role of women and families within the sugarcane industry.

The workshops were hosted by CANEGROWERS Tully and Project Cane Changer – two groups who recognise the important role women play in the Tully sugarcane industry.

Peter Lucy, Manager of CANEGROWERS Tully, was pleased at the support shown by the workshop attendees. 

“Women are a vital part of both the CANEGROWERS organisation and our great industry,” Peter said. “We look forward to their continued input in helping the industry move forward and are interested in supporting their involvement wherever we can.”

A key focus of the workshops was to foster a better understanding of Smartcane BMP, an industry-led best practice program for sugarcane growing, and the record-keeping process associated with the program.  

Smartcane BMP is designed to be flexible enough to adapt to each and every farming operation. The program allows growers to demonstrate their use of best practices that drive productivity while protecting the environment.

Tully Smartcane BMP facilitator, Nick Stipis, was on hand to provide the women with tips and tricks for record-keeping and guide them through simple templates.  

Tully Smartcane BMP facilitator, Nick Stippis, presenting to attendees.

Tully Smartcane BMP facilitator, Nick Stippis, presenting to attendees.

“Record-keeping can be an initial challenge for businesses getting involved in the program,” Nick says. “However, getting on top of it is surprisingly easy, saving you time and effort down the track.”

Cane Changer Project Manager, Toneya McIntosh, said that the workshops were an opportunity for women to come together and talk about their successes and challenges on-farm.

“We believe that the family unit is integral to the success and longevity of Queensland’s sugar industry,” she said, “At the family’s core, it is often the industry’s women who are responsible for the day-to-day running of the farming business.”

Participants at the workshops also had the opportunity to provide feedback on future directions for other women’s sessions that CANEGROWERS Tully hopes to host.

“There was interest in exploring emerging technologies that could help with on-ground record-keeping and farm management,” Toneya said. “They also expressed interest in topics such as succession planning, business management and other useful tools for farming families.

“These sessions are hopefully just the start of ongoing events for women to come together in the region.”

If you would like to get involved or have a suggestion on what workshops you would like to see in your district, please head to canechanger.com to find out more or contact your local CANEGROWERS office.