Often when we face challenging times, we tend to feel like we’re the only ones doing it tough. This can be true not just of individuals, but at an industry level too.
The 2022 season has been a particularly challenging one for individual sugarcane growers and for the industry as a whole.
While the season started off promisingly, with plenty of optimism around the high world sugar price, there has been growing frustration over poor weather impacting harvesting operations and poor mill performance extending the season length.
There has also been a lot of anxiety among growers about sky-rocketing input costs, especially fuel and fertiliser.
In fact, there have even been murmurs that price gouging at the local level may be responsible for the rising costs.
However, a recent trip to London for the 2022 World Association of Beet and Cane Growers (WABCG) conference brought home to me the fact that this is far from a localised problem and Australia is not alone in facing these challenges.
Around the world, farmers are facing the same concerns about rising input costs and what it means for their production and bottom line.
While these price rises are beyond the control of any one industry or nation, it is comforting to know that we are all in the same boat and that Australian growers are not being unfairly disadvantaged.
Like Australia, other sugar producing nations are also examining ways to diversify their sugar industries.
WABCG members had a unified position on how sugarcane and beet can, through diversification, be part of a solution to climate change.
We are in a unique position through the production of ethanol, electricity and biogas to reduce the overall carbon output of the world.
More needs to be invested in these areas, as well as in the development of aviation fuel and bioplastics, but for this we need positive government policy settings at state and federal levels.
While in London I also attended a meeting of the Global Sugar Alliance, where members called on India to fully comply with its international trade commitments and stop dumping price-distorting subsidised sugar onto the market.
Maintaining a high world sugar price is the best way to ensure our growers and the communities they support can absorb rising input costs and remain viable. We can only do this if India stops unfairly distorting the world market.
The Global Sugar Alliance also acknowledged the big push from consumers for sustainable products, including sugar.
Thankfully, through the hard work of growers over the past decade, the Australian industry is well advanced in this regard.
Through our grower-led best management practice program, Smartcane BMP, and more recently our Blockchain Sustainable Sugar Project, we are well on the way to positioning Australia as the world’s premier sustainable sugar nation.
There is more work to be done, but CANEGROWERS is working hard with our members and industry partners to ensure we have a bright future for the industry and regional Queensland communities.