Growers on Queensland’s Granite Belt are keen to let the rest of the supply chain know that despite the dry times the quality of available produce remains high.
The Granite Belt Growers Association, which represent horticulturalists in the area, recently conducted a survey of growers to quantify the reduced production forecast in the 2019/20 season due to drought and irrigation water shortages.
President of the Granite Belt Growers Association, Angus Ferrier said they wanted to investigate the impacts drought was having on eastern Australia, including the Granite Belt, in response to recent media attention.
“As a region we wanted to quantify the effect this drought was having on our members’ production, and not just rely on rumour and hearsay,” Mr Ferrier said.
“The survey results point to reduced production across most categories, but varied considerably between growers. The survey also revealed an estimated reduction in wages and local expenditure of over $100M from the sector this financial year.
“As primary producers we are very conscious of the flow-on effects this drought will have on the people and businesses in our community. It’s very important to us that we keep our key staff employed through this drought.”
Mr Ferrier said some respondents revealed the extra effort and considerable expense they were prepared to incur, such as transporting water and leasing other land where water is available, to maintain all or part of their usual fruit and vegetable production.
“We are committed to our existing supply chain partners. We urge wholesalers, small retailers and supermarkets who usually source produce from the Granite Belt to make enquiries with their suppliers and talk through what categories will be available and in what volumes,” he said.
“There will still be high quality produce available from the Granite Belt this year, just a bit less of it.”
Manager of Policy and Advocacy at Growcom, the peak industry body for horticulture in Queensland, Richard Shannon highlighted the important complimentary role to be played by the public.
“Our power as consumers can’t be overestimated,” Mr Shannon said.
“We should be asking for and seeking out seasonal local produce wherever we can. We can also give our regional communities a boost with our tourist dollar. The Granite Belt is an excellent long weekend destination for south east Queenslanders, providing a proper taste of winter this time of year.”
The Granite Belt is a nationally significant horticultural region in southern Queensland. It is a major domestic production region for apples and summer-grown tomatoes, capsicum, strawberries and salad leaf vegetables.