Advocating on behalf of Queensland’s sugarcane farming families and the communities they support is at the very heart of what CANEGROWERS does as an organisation.
Weather it’s pounding the halls of power or more general community engagement, it’s our job to tell the powerful and positive stories of our industry’s past, present and future.
Rarely do we get an opportunity to engage one-on-one with government decision-makers and the general public simultaneously.
That’s why this year’s Ekka Show week in Brisbane was such a resounding success for the industry.
For the first time ever, CANEGROWERS came together with other industry stakeholders to operate a stand in the Ekka’s agricultural hall where city folk, most of whom had little or no understanding of the sugar industry, could come along and discover what it is we do.
Over the course the week, thousands of people flocked to the sugar stand to gain a new and better understanding of the industry.
In fact, according to Ekka organisers, the sugar stand was one of the biggest attractions in the agricultural hall this year.
This was largely due to the use of virtual reality headsets, which took visitors on an immersive journey through the production process, from planting to packaging.
It was incredible to witness firsthand the joy and amazement expressed by men, women and children of all ages as they were immersed in the life of a cane farmer, harvest operator and mill worker.
But it wasn’t only the general public who gained a valuable insight into the importance of the industry and the pivotal role we could one day play in the success of Queensland’s bioeconomy.
Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and Federal Opposition leader Peter Dutton, all attended the stand and engaged directly with industry representatives from CANEGROWERS, SRA and NSW miller Sunshine Sugar.
Even the Queensland Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young dropped by to check out Sunshine Sugar’s new low-GI sugar product and hear about Sugar Plus, the industry’s plan to become a central player in the future bioeconomy.
While many of the visitors knew little or nothing about sugar production, some unfortunately came to the stand with a negative view of the industry, often related to environmental or health concerns.
But regardless of their preconceived ideas, all visitors left with a more positive and factual understanding of the sugar production process.
Like all industries in today’s world, the sugar industry requires a social licence if we are to continue operating successfully.
We achieve this by engaging directly with the community and the decision-makers and educating them on the steps we have taken over many decades to become one of the world’s most efficient, sustainable and forward-thinking producers of sugar.
In this respect, the 2022 Ekka was a huge success for the Queensland sugar industry.
I’d like to thank all of the CANEGROWERS and SRA staff who took time out from their already busy work schedules to set-up and man the stand over the course of 10 days.
I’d also like to thank Sunshine Sugar for the use of their virtual reality headsets, which were instrumental in the success of the sugar stand. Both SRA and the Australian Sugar Milling Council also provided information flyers, posters and giveaways for visitors, which all contributed to the sugar stand’s popularity.