On The Land

20 January, 2023

Commitment to sugar industry

IN a partnership that goes back to the 1900s, the Queensland Government is continuing its support for our sugarcane industry with a five-year $14.25 million funding grant to Sugar Research Australia Limited (SRA) for research, development and extension activities.

Commitment to sugar industry - feature photo

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Queensland Government had been working with and supporting this iconic industry for 122 years.

“The Queensland Government has a long-standing history of supporting RD&E activities that improve the prosperity and sustainability of the sugarcane industry,” Mr Furner said.

“This grant will see a further $14.25M committed to strategic RD&E investments that will increase our understanding of industry problems, enable the uptake of advanced technology, and implement innovative management practices to strengthen the industry.

“RD&E is critical to driving productivity and innovation in Queensland's agricultural industries.

“Our research support for agriculture, together with investment from our research partners, is key to helping farmers to solve production problems so they get on with what they do best, growing the world’s best food and fibre.”

Mr Furner said canegrowers could also benefit significantly under the Government’s Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

“The plan recognises growers, graziers and bioenergy generators are key partners in our clean energy transition,” he said.

“It also acknowledges that canegrowers are significant energy consumers. Through our plan we’re building more clean, cheap, and secure energy that breaks away from the fast-rising cost of fossil fuel power electricity and liquid fuels, including mineral diesel.”

As part of the 2022-23 State Budget, the Government announced a new Queensland Microgrid Pilot Fund which will invest $10 million over two years, to boost the resilience of regional and re-mote communities.

The Department of Energy and Public Works is currently developing guidelines and eligibility requirements for the fund, with the guidelines expected to be released by the end of 2022. Cane-growers, or sugar mills, are welcome to apply if eligibility requirements are met.

SRA recently completed its new five-year Stra-tegic Plan, identifying five strategic pillars to help grow and shape the prosperity of the Australian sugarcane industry and regional communities.

A key focus area is the development of an RD&E growth strategy for the sugarcane industry, ensuring investments provide greater impact and lead to new innovations that are easily adopted.

DAF will work with SRA to identify critical areas for investment aligned with industry priorities. Potential areas of focus include adoption of digital technology, diversification of sugarcane use, decarbonisation opportunities, and biosecurity preparedness, management and prevention.

SRA Chief Executive Officer Roslyn Baker said the funding commitment from the Queens-land Government was extremely welcome and would greatly assist the industry to grow and adapt to future challenges.

“Sugarcane is a vital industry to Queensland’s economy and for building regional prosperity,” Ms Baker said.

“SRA is focused on boosting our industry to deliver immediate value through our industry services and also long-term sustainability and growth. Investment in RD&E is critical, and I welcome the Queensland Government’s commitment to sugarcane RD&E through this grant.”

The overall contribution from the sugarcane in-dustry to Queensland’s gross value of production for 2020-2021 is estimated to be $1.15 billion, a 12.7 per cent increase from the previous year, when production was affected by drier seasons.

In the 2020-2021 financial year, Queensland produced 96% of Australia’s sugarcane.


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