This year the theme for National Ag Day was ‘Innovation in Ag’. A survey conducted by the National Farmers Federation indicated that only 18% of Australians agree the sector is focused on innovation and improvement. Is it that we need to get better at telling our story or is this statistic a reflection of the widening gap between city and country with fewer and fewer people having an awareness of the ag sector generally?
Those of us who are close to the industry are well aware of the demonstrated innovation and ability to respond and adapt to changing environments farmers have shown throughout the history of Queensland agriculture. Last week at the QFF National Ag Day breakfast event which showcased the innovation and sustainability of some of our commodity members, Canegrowers gave a first-class example of innovation in Queensland agriculture in action.
Canegrowers CEO, Dan Galligan advised the audience that last week, the first ever shipment of fully traceable, sustainably produced raw sugar was loaded for export at the Port of Townsville. The ability for this sugar to be traceable right through the supply chain to the end user in South Korea has been made possible by blockchain technology which verifies the provenance of the sugar from paddock to package.
This innovation has already been tested in Tully and Mackay tracing sugarcane from farm to mill and now the ability to trace the product through the entire supply chain presents the capacity to satisfy the growth in consumer demand for sustainable food supply chains. This enables Queensland Smartcane BMP-accredited growers to achieve international recognition for their sustainability.
This cutting-edge technology is helping to keep the Queensland sugar industry ahead of the game and leading the way in innovation whilst developing a practical system that will potentially support growth in market access and eventually a possible premium for growers.
This innovation has been the result of farmers and industry peak bodies such as Canegrowers, working closely with technology providers and is just one example of the kind of advancements currently happening in Queensland agriculture.
But the list goes on. Farmers are using moisture and weather monitoring equipment to help improve efficiency, reduce water use and increase productivity, GPS technology is helping farmers achieve up to 90% reduction in chemical use through targeted precision spaying regimes, and fruit growers are using an app to track every piece of fruit from rootstock to retail.
Yes, we need to get better at telling our story. But let’s support the budding interest people are beginning to show in wanting to know where their food comes from. We need to build an understanding of the real cost of producing the world’s most sustainable food, fibre and foliage. Agriculture is an industry we can all be proud of, leading the world when it comes to sustainability. This of course comes at a cost often borne by the farmer. For a sustainable food supply chain to exist, we must have a viable farming sector. Food for thought.