For the best part of a decade, Queensland’s cane growers have been working hard to improve farming practices, not only making their businesses more profitable, efficient, and sustainable, but also improving environmental outcomes.
Those efforts have resulted in 40 per cent of Queensland’s total cane-growing area now being independently accredited as farming at or above industry best standards.
It’s a figure that many other agricultural sectors would love to replicate, but that doesn’t mean cane growers are resting on their laurels.
The industry-led best management practice program, Smartcane BMP, which has been the driving force behind this remarkable achievement, recently received Phase 4 funding from the Queensland Government.
This $4.47 million cash injection over the next three years is recognition of the tremendous results this program, and participating growers, have achieved to date.
Growers right across the industry have embraced the program which validates the changes they are making on-farm to provide positive environmental outcomes, while also improving their bottom line.
And while 40% might be the official figure, when you take into account the number of growers who are implementing best practice on their farms but have not sought accreditation, the actual figure would be much higher.
But Smartcane BMP is much more than an effort to meet environmental targets. It is one of the cornerstones of the industry’s future sustainability strategy.
The program has been recognised by global sustainability frameworks as meeting their rigid standards for sustainably produced sugar.
This means that a significant, and growing, percentage of Queensland’s sugar can now be marketed as sustainable.
This is hugely important in a world where consumers are increasingly demanding sustainably produced products.
To assist with this effort CANEGROWERS, in conjunction with KMPG, has developed and trialled a blockchain platform that will allow Australian sustainable sugar to be traced from the paddock to the package.
It’s a technological advancement that will open doors to more international markets and eventually, we hope, produce a premium for Queensland growers.
Australia has one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable sugar industries. Our growers are recognised internationally as being some of the best anywhere in the world.
We can all be proud of this wonderful industry, which supports so many coastal communities and contributes significantly to our state’s economy.
Of course, the industry is not without its challenges, and negative stories will always garner more media attention than positive ones. But rest assured, there are exciting times ahead for Queensland’s sugar industry.
While many industries may look at climate-driven economic change with apprehension, the sugar industry sees an opportunity to become a leader in the nation’s bioeconomy.
Smartcane BMP and the hard work of participating growers is at the centre of this strategy.
The program is 100% voluntary and I encourage all growers to get involved and seek accreditation.
While we in the industry know we are operating at the highest of environmental standards, accreditation provides a validation that opens the doors to policy and market-based recognition.