Canegrowers given boost
LOCAL canegrowers have backed a new research and development body for the sugar industry.
Sugar Research Australia is a streamlined organisation with more clear-cut goals to advance the industry’s markets and quality of product, while at the same time being able to access larger funding pools from growers, millers and the government.
Endorsed by Canegrowers and the Australian Sugar Milling Council, SRA will allow grower and miller funds to be used more effectively, maximise government contributions and deliver better research to growers and millers.
chairman of Canegrowers Mossman, Drew Watson said that he was in favour of the new group.
“Twenty years ago the previous system worked well and while we were an expanding industry it served us all pretty well,” Mr Watson said.
“But for the past 10 years we have been a contracting industry and so the old system has become broken because it has not kept up with the times and no longer serves us as it should.
“And even though many of us did not want the change, I believe with the formation of this new research and development body we are moving in the right direction.”
Chairman of the Mossman Sugar Mill Bill Phillips-turner said he accepts that there needs to be change to the existing R&D organisation.
“The present system is financially unsustainable and not able to deliver the R&D that the industry needs to remain internationally competitive,” Mr Phillips-turner said.
“These reforms come at a time after the Australian sugar industry has reduced its production from 40 million tonnes to 30 million tonnes during the past 10 to 15 years and as a levy’s based industry on tonnes of cane produced, without reform it is forecast it would need to pay in the vicinity of $1 per tonne to keep R&D in same form as in 2011.
“From a milling perspective we need more bang for our research dollars and need an increase in productivity from our research dollars which means increased tonnes of cane crushed.”
The new organisation will replace the three present industry research bodies which have become unwieldy and costly to operate.
The reform package comes after a year of consultation with industry leaders, farmers and sugar mill operators to ensure they use best practices and to remain internationally competitive when it comes to selling their sugar products.
There are over 4,000 cane farmers in Australia with in excess of 100 farmers growing cane in the Mossman and Port Douglas region.