Cane­grow­ers given boost

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

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.

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