Cane Changer comes to the Burdekin

Project Cane Changer is an initiative designed to recognise Queensland’s sugar cane farmers for their positive farming practices and their contribution to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The Project is an initiative by the Queensland CANEGROWERS Organisation, funded initially by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science, and delivered by Behaviour Innovation.

An announcement by the Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price in March of $1.41m in funding provided by the partnership between the Australian Government Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The Great Barrier Reef Cane Changer program will now be funded federally, and extended to the Burdekin being one of three regions to be involved.

BI team members and behavioral scientists Toneya McIntosh and Sam Moore visited the Burdekin this week to present the Cane Changer Project to directors at their monthly CANEGROWERS Burdekin board meeting.

CANEGROWERS Burdekin recognises the Federal Government’s approach to the management of water quality and hence the health of the Great Barrier Reef. It is well known that a collaborative approach with stakeholders will always win out at the end of the day rather than a divisive set of regulations that only puts at risk the good work the industry has done thus far.

Toneya McIntosh and Sam Moore visited the Burdekin this week to present the Cane Changer Project to Directors.

Toneya McIntosh and Sam Moore visited the Burdekin this week to present the Cane Changer Project to Directors.

The Cane Changer project is to be introduced into the Burdekin after witnessing successes of the program in the wet tropics. The wet tropics has seen more than 246 growers sign commitments, and put in writing their next steps to protect the Great Barrier Reef. This has resulted in a resounding 300 per cent increase in take-up of the State Government-funded Smartcane Best Management Practice program (BMP).

Established by CANEGROWERS and delivery partner Behaviour Innovation, with seed funding from the Queensland Government, Cane Changer delivered more than 260 workshops and activities in two years in cane growing communities from Mossman to the Herbert River.

The project was awarded the Bonsucro Inspire Award in Thailand last week, making it one of the most recognised effective sustainability programs in any sugar industry worldwide. The industry-developed program will assist us in bringing stakeholders together to better understand each other’s views on how our industry operates and its achievements in environmental stewardship.

It is set to expand, while recognising sugarcane growers for rising to the challenge of improving water quality for the Great Barrier Reef and encouraging and sharing further innovation on farms with the new funding arrangement. The industry- developed BMP program is quickly gaining recognition globally as a guarantee of sustainability and has in excess of 70 per cent of the industry’s land under cane involved. It is through positive engagement and programs such as Cane Changer and Smartcane BMP that we can show the community and governments what is taking place in the industry and why increasing the burden of regulation is not necessary.

CBL directors encourage growers in the Burdekin to get behind this project so that as part of the broader industry growers can have the capacity to build on the already successful BMP program and to exhibit the endeavours and success stories of improving water quality and showcase the stewardship for the environment to the general public and governments.

Further information and grower testimonials from the wet tropics on the Cane Changer initiative can be viewed by clicking here.