Women's field knowledge grows

Attendees of the Cairns Region CANEGROWERS women's field day visiting the cane variety breeding program at Sugar Research Australia.

Attendees of the Cairns Region CANEGROWERS women's field day visiting the cane variety breeding program at Sugar Research Australia.

This article was originally published in the Cairns Post on 5 September 2018.


The contribution of women from the Cairns sugar cane industry have been celebrated.

More than 20 women took part in a recent field day to gain further insight into their local industry, Smartcane BMP, water quality, the Great Barrier Reef and industry initiatives to access.

They visited the Meringa Sugar Research Australia Station (SRA) learning more about the sugar cane variety breeding program and were shown the process of developing a new variety of cane, which can take more than a decade.

The group also learned about local ecosystems, in particular how water runs off land travelling through various ecosystems and waterways, eventually leading to the Great Barrier Reef.

They also received an industry update from Cairns CANEGROWERS chairman Stephen Calcagno, who introduced them to resources such as Smartcane BMP and the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP).

Toneya McIntosh, Felicity Atkin, Vivien Dunn, Barb Ghidella and Belinda Billing at the women's field day.

Toneya McIntosh, Felicity Atkin, Vivien Dunn, Barb Ghidella and Belinda Billing at the women's field day.

"I've been around sugarcane all my life and didn't know half of what we learned," said Cairns sugarcane grower Barb Ghidella.

Mr Calcagno said women helped drive the industry. "We think it is crucially important to recognise the role they play on-farm and we are looking to support them wherever we can," he said.

The day was supported by CANEGROWERS Cairns District and the Project Cane Changer.