Leaders of the horticulture industry in Queensland have sought to reassure consumers that there will be a steady and stable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables in store despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Queensland is blessed to have a variety of growing regions and climates, so every day of the year there’s something being harvested here in the Sunshine State. And through winter we produce many of the vegetables eaten around Australia,” said Joe Moro, mango grower from Mareeba and chair of the Queensland Horticulture Council.

“While we do have some concerns for the supply of some inputs like chemicals and packaging, our greatest challenge appears to be finding enough workers to harvest our crops because we do normally employ a number of backpackers who are now deciding against or are unable to travel.”

“As an industry we’re quickly establishing what our shortfall in workers might be, and working with state and federal governments on initiatives to fill any gaps.”

While clearly there is a lot of water to pass under the bridge, members of the Queensland Horticulture Council are agreed that a couple of silver linings of the coronavirus emergency, though faint, were already appearing.

“If as predicted we do end up providing employment for casuals displaced from other parts of the economy, it’ll be a great opportunity to introduce them to our industry and entice them to stay. Horticulture is a dynamic and exciting industry with skilled roles that are well paid and lead to rewarding careers,” said Carl Walker, President of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association and #eatqld Champion. 

“It’s an also industry that’s expected to grow strongly over the next decade. And if nothing else, the coronavirus emergency will make clear that job security producing fresh fruit and vegetables is second to none. People have got to eat!”

The horticulture industry is confident coronavirus will bring the many health benefits of its produce to the fore as well.

“There is an enormous weight of evidence linking a varied diet that includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetable with improved immunity to every kind of disease. Now more than ever is the time to consider eating more fresh produce and less processed goods,” said David Thomson, CEO of Growcom.

“We hope promoting a change in diet now to improve our ability to withstand coronavirus will lead to long term behaviour change and improved public health outcomes.”   

What is the Queensland Horticulture Council?

The Queensland horticulture industry is responsible for producing one third of all fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts grown and consumed in Australia. 

The Queensland Horticulture Council is the preeminent forum for deliberating horticulture policy in Queensland. It is comprised of representatives from each of the major regionally-based grower groups and associations, and is facilitated by Growcom.