Like most ag sectors, Queensland’s sugarcane industry has long been viewed as a male dominated space. And historically, at least at leadership level, this has been true.
Of course, those of us who work in the industry have always known the vital role women have played and continue to play in driving our success.
Thankfully, over the past few decades, female roles have moved from largely behind the scenes work to more prominent professional and leadership positions, as could be seen at the annual Women in Sugar Conference held in Bundaberg recently.
Women from across the industry came together to hear presentations from guest speakers and share news from their own districts ahead of the rapidly approaching harvest.
Attendees included CANEGROWERS district directors and staff, scientists and researchers, agronomists, farmers, advocacy and communication professionals, and many others – all of them women.
Today we have women leaders at the head of our milling and research bodies, and also on CANEGROWERS district and state boards.
It is a testament not only to the progressive nature of our industry, but also to the hard work and determination of the women working in it.
As I’ve written previously, we have workforce shortages right across the sugarcane supply chain, from haulout and loco drivers to mill workers and trades people.
I, for one, would love to see many of these roles filled by women and I encourage any women in sugar growing regions who are seeking employment to contact their local CANEGROWERS office or visit the CANEGROWERS Work in the Industry webpage to see what jobs are available that may be suited to them.
In my last column, I wrote about the amazing rise of the world sugar price, which had reached over $800 per tonne in mid-April.
Well, thanks to a forecast global sugar shortage over the next two years, there is no end in sight to these record high prices with the 2023 contract hitting $842 per tonne on April 28.
Equally exciting are the rising prices for the 2024, 2025 and 2026 seasons. While many growers may miss out on the amazing 2023 price as they’ve already forward priced their sugar, there are still some incredible gains to be made by forward pricing over the next three seasons.
With the harvest just weeks away, and a good-looking crop ready to be cut and crushed, optimism is building with in the industry.
Growers are hoping that the weather holds and that mills have completed their required maintenance and capital works and are ready to fire up in June.
Unnecessary delays, be they due to poor weather or poor mill performance, will be bad news for everyone. If we can get this crop cut and crushed by late November, it will benefit the entire sugarcane supply chain and the communities it supports.