Did you hear recently about a new vision for the future of sugarcane in Queensland? It’s big and bold and has the backing of the whole industry.
Launched at the time of the Developing Northern Australian Conference in Mackay, Sugar Plus – Fuelling the Future of Food, Energy and Fabrication sets out near, medium and long-term goals for our industry which already generates around 4 billion dollars of economic activity a year.
The vision is to grow further, expand into new products and markets and help to answer some of the environmental challenges of our time
This Sugar Plus document is not one that will now sit on a shelf and gather dust. There is momentum behind it.
We know that the green and renewable crop we grow has huge potential to be the raw material for products such as biofuels and bioplastics and we’ve been pushing for this kind of whole-of-industry collaboration.
CANEGROWERS initiated a Sugar Industry Leaders Forum in late 2020 to talk about realising bioeconomy opportunities to add to Australia’s expertise in quality raw sugar production.
This meeting led to the involvement of the Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia and the development of the vision we’ve jointly just launched.
Collaborating with all of the parties involved, the next step for Sugar Plus is forming a series of working groups to see the vision implemented. There will be challenges to face and overcome while keeping up with our day-to-day business of growing sugarcane and manufacturing and exporting raw sugar.
Importantly, both the Federal and Queensland governments have supported the development of the roadmap, seeing that a strong and diversified sugarcane industry secures the future prosperity of regional communities. We will call on that support when policy at that level is needed to facilitate our vision.
Already growers are at the forefront of a number of projects underway in Queensland which will help to see this vision become a reality.
Burdekin Renewable Fuels is one such venture that is grower-owned and driven. It’s Project B Green has the goal of establishing a bio-refinery to transform cane into green hydrogen for fuel and chemicals, such as ammonia and glycols, monoethylene and monopropylene glycols for plastics and fibres.
Working with partners from research and industry, the business concept is being developed and due to be finalised early next year. What’s important about this project is that growers are involved from the beginning, building the foundation for new industry to meet market demands and realise new value from their cane.
We look forward to many more such ventures. The Sugar Plus roadmap points the way and we are excited to be working towards bringing our communities new industries, new jobs and a bright future.