An industry-developed program which recognises sugarcane growers for rising to the challenge of improving water quality for the Great Barrier Reef and encourages further innovation on farms is set to expand with a new funding arrangement.
“Project Cane Changer is about reinforcing positive farming practices and it links into the industry’s Smartcane BMP, best management practice, program which is being recognised globally as a guarantee of sustainability,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said.
“Today’s funding announcement means Cane Changer will involve more growers in the sensitive Wet Tropics region and also expand into other catchments, such as my home region of Mackay,” he said.
Established by CANEGROWERS and delivery partner Behaviour Innovation with seed funding from the Queensland Government, Cane Changer has delivered more than 260 workshops and activities in two years in cane growing communities from Mossman to the Herbert River.
Today’s announced $1.41 million in funding by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation will allow the program will expand to the Burdekin, Mackay and southern growing regions of Queensland over the next 12 months.
“Cane Changer seeks to understand the grower, recognise them for their on-farm changes, and create the right conditions to support ongoing practice change into the future,” explained John Pickering from Behaviour Innovation.
“More than 246 growers have signed commitments, putting in writing their next steps to protect the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
“It’s 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,” Mr Schembri said.
“Over the past two years where Cane Changer has been running, Smartcane BMP accreditation has increased by more than 300%, showing that a voluntary program that works in partnership with growers will achieve great things.
“Through Smartcane BMP, which is financially supported by the Queensland Government, we are being recognised internationally as producers of sustainable sugar – the more growers we have accredited, the greater our presence in the market can be.
“I look forward to Cane Changer expanding in the future and thank the Australian Government and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation for seeing its potential,” Mr Schembri said.
Note: Smartcane BMP is an industry-led, voluntary accreditation program available to all sugarcane growers in Queensland to document, benchmark and continuously improve their on-farm practices for productivity, profitability and sustainability. It is supported by funding from the Queensland Government.