Growing consumer demand for Queensland’s fruit, nuts and vegetables combined with increasing uptake of innovative on-farm technology and practices is helping drive the farm-gate value of the state’s horticulture industry to the $3 billion mark and beyond.

Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) spokesperson Brendan Egan said it was an exciting time for the horticulture sector in Queensland and QRIDA was playing its part providing low interest finance to assist growers to invest and expand.

According to the Queensland Government’s AgTrends 2018-19 report, the gross value of production in fruit crops is forecast to be $1.91 billion or 15 per cent higher than the average for the past five years, while vegetables are forecast to reach $1.27 billion or 6 per cent higher.

Avocados, macadamia nuts, apples and watermelons are among the top performers.

The report found the growing global population and affluence in emerging economies meant demand for niche primary products had helped expand and create new markets for Queensland producers.

Mr Egan said the state’s horticulture growers were making the most of state-of-the-art advancements in technology supporting a new crop of protective environments, controlled micro climates and new technology in greenhouses.

He said QRIDA’s Sustainability Loans of up to $1.3 million were available to help eligible producers wanting to take that next step and invest in technology on-farm.

“The appetite for investment in new technology solutions to help reduce input costs such as water and energy, to increase plant production and process efficiencies and boost on-farm productivity and profitability is only going to increase,” Mr Egan said.

“At a recent major agtech conference in Brisbane, the horticulture sector led the way in showcasing a wide range of new technologies from hydroponics and greenhouses to energy saving solutions and digital tools to help monitor and manage the workforce.”

Mr Egan said investing in new technology could often come with a level of risk and that was where QRIDA’s Sustainability Loans were an attractive option with low interest rates, loan terms of up to 20 years and no fees or charges.

“QRIDA has 10 Regional Area Managers located across the state who can visit growers on-farm to discuss their finance needs,” Mr Egan said.

For more information visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au or contact a local Regional Area Manager on Freecall 1800 623 946.