Growcom has welcomed the release of a new Australian-Grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework by industry R&D corporation Hort Innovation.

The framework provides the whole industry and individual growers a way of understanding and measuring the sustainability of horticultural production, and provides guidance for plotting a path toward a more sustainable future.

Opportunities for improved sustainability identified in the framework include increasing the wellbeing and productivity of the horticulture workforce, reducing waste and packaging, and boosting water and energy efficiency.

Growcom Chief Executive Stephen Barnard said the framework was a significant step forward for the industry, and had served an important purpose in bringing the many pieces of the sustainability puzzle together in one clear and coherent document.

“To thrive as an industry we need to keep realigning ourselves with the values and expectations of consumers and investors and be forever on the look out for new tools and technologies that will make us not just more sustainable but more profitable too,” said Mr Barnard. 

“Growcom has for a long time now been at the leading edge of sustainability for our industry, delivering tools to improve both sustainability and profitability.

“For over 15 years we’ve led the development of Hort360, the best management practice program for horticulture, which continues to evolve. Only in the last ten months have we certified through Hort360 the first 20 growers in Great Barrier Reef catchments to demonstrate best practice water quality management.

“The framework recognizes our duty to provide a safe and rewarding workplace for our people. Here too Growcom is just two short years into delivering Fair Farms, raising awareness and educating growers of ethical employment practice, with now over 320 employers on the way to having their practices certified as fair. 

“Growcom also continues to deliver Infopest, the leading agriculture and veterinary chemical database and search engine in Australia, that gives growers the confidence they need in using chemicals under great pressure to meet consumer food safety expectations and to protect environmental values.

“Infopest is such an important service for the whole of agriculture, and we’re proud to have been its custodian for the past ten years.

“Growcom will be seeking out growers, industry partners and other stakeholders interested in picking up the framework, applying it to their operations and plotting their own path toward greater sustainability and profitability.”