Queensland is Australia’s premier state for fruit and vegetable production, growing one-third of the nation’s produce.
Horticulture is Queensland’s second largest primary industry, worth more than $2 billion per year and employing around 25 000 people.
The state is responsible for the majority of Australia’s banana, pineapple, mango, mandarin, avocado, beetroot and fresh tomato production.
There are 16 defined horticultural regions with a total area under fruit and vegetable production of about 100 000 hectares.
Queensland’s 2800 farms produce more than 120 types of fruit and vegetables and are located from Stanthorpe in the south to the Atherton Tablelands in the far north.
Our fresh produce ranges from temperate stone fruits and apples to staple vegetables, Asian vegetables and macadamias.
Facts about Queensland horticulture
- A major contributor to regional economies and the mainstay of many regional communities.
- The largest high quality supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables to Australian consumers.
- A diverse industry using a range of production methods in different locations and climates.
- Providing produce both as bulk commodities and in value-added forms.
- Supplying local, interstate and overseas markets via a range of outlets including wholesalers, supermarkets, green grocers, farmers’ markets and direct to consumers.
- The most labour intensive of all agricultural industries, with labour representing as much as 50 per cent of the overall operating costs.
- An industry with significant links to the tourism industry, providing income for backpackers and ‘grey nomads’ every year.
- A high value and efficient user of water resources in terms of agricultural production: the industry occupies only 3 per cent of the State’s total land under crops and uses only 10 per cent of the State’s irrigation water but produces almost 40 per cent of the value of all irrigated products.
- A primary and secondary source of income for many families in regional Queensland.
- The site for a number of emerging agricultural industries including olives, Asian exotic tropical fruits, culinary herbs, bush foods, functional foods and nutraceuticals.
- Increasingly adopting sustainable farm management practices and earning a strong reputation for safe food production which is committed to a ‘clean and green’ ethos.
A part of the Australian horticulture industry
- Horticulture is one of the largest and fastest growing industries within the Australian agricultural sector.
- It is characterised by a high diversity of commodities and production systems, producing a range of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- In 2008-09, the Australian horticulture industry produced more than 6.8 million tonnes of fruit, nuts and vegetables worth in excess of $7.3 billion.
- The industry is composed of more than 15 000 enterprises and employs more than 60 000 people on farm (DAFF 2010).
- Australia exported about 60 per cent of food production in 2009-10 for an export surplus of $14.2 billion (Foster et al. 2010) and 98 per cent of fresh produce consumed in Australia is grown locally (Ludwig 2010). These figures are often used to support arguments that there are no threats to Australian food security. However, the figures used to support these arguments are biased by a small number of heavily export-focussed industries (e.g. meat and grains).
- Australia is currently a net importer of horticultural products and claims of a secure food supply for this sector are probably misplaced.