By Growcom CEO David Thomson
A leading vegetable growing family in South-east Queensland are doing their part to reduce food waste by installing a state-of-the-art floretting machine at their horticulture packing facility.
Brothers Troy and Bradley Qualischefski of Qualipac Farms are using a $250,000 grant from the state government to install Queensland-first technology capable of turning produce previously deemed too big for market into a saleable product.
Where produce would have once been sold for livestock feed it will now be cut up to a size to suit supermarkets and greengrocers.
News of the grant funding last week coincided with horticulture’s showcase national conference, Hort Connections, held in Melbourne and attracting over 3,500 growers and industry delegates.
A key theme that emerged from the conference is the essential role fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts must play in improving not just human health, but the health of our environment.
Dr Sandro Demaio, known for his role as co-host of the ABC television show Ask the Doctor, used his keynote address to share with delegates the findings of a report recently completed by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health.
The report found that if we are going to provide a healthy diet to the 10 billion people expected to inhabit earth by 2050, while also staying within the limits of our natural ecosystems, then we must reduce food waste, double our consumption of fruits, vegetable, nuts and legumes, while halving our intake of foods such as red meat and sugar.
Dr Demaio summarised in saying the biggest challenge for agriculture is not to produce more food but more of the right foods.
To a receptive audience in Melbourne it was clear that of all primary industries, horticulture has the brightest future as more and more of the world’s consumers are shifting towards a diet rich in plant-based foods.
The challenge for Growcom is ensuring this positive story, about the benefits of fruits, vegetables and nuts for human and planetary health, reaches a much wider audience and influences the strategic decisions made by governments on behalf of the public.
So we commend the Queensland Government for its Rural Economic Development (RED) Grants, supporting innovative producers like Qualipac Farms with up to $250,000 in co-contributions to reduce waste and capitalise on productivity and employment opportunities.
We also call on the Queensland Government to take heed of the science and establish a cohesive suite of policies and investments across horticulture, environment, research, innovation, health and trade portfolios that will set us on course for a healthy and prosperous century despite looming resource constraints.