17 September, 2022
FNQ farmers look to future
More than 100 registered attendees converged on Mareeba last week to attend the NT Farmers Future Food Roadshow, with the two-day event featuring presentations from farmers and experts regarding agricultural opportunities and challenges available in the area
Exploring issues such as diversification opportunities, environmental approval processes, the future of agriculture in the region, biosecurity threats and commodity updates, the seminar sought to challenge the paradigm of food production, now and into the future.
A broad range of presenters discussed futuris-tic farming themes, including local insect farmer, Stirling Tavener of “Bugs Alive”, Cairns, who supplies responsibly grown insects to pet owners, zoos, wildlife parks and carers.
Mr Tavener, in association with Alessandros Pizzeria and Antipasto Bar, Cairns, has developed a cricket meal bread, which was available for sampling on the day. The bread contained 336 crickets, dried, ground and mixed with wheat-flour and grains.
Simon Jackson, Dimbulah pasture-raised eggs, free range sheep and goat meat supplier to the Far North Queensland area, said: “The use of insects as a protein source was an interesting concept.”
Crickets are considered environmentally friendlier as they produce much lower carbon emissions than cattle, pigs and sheep, require less resources to produce, yet are high in protein and are a good source of fibre and vitamin B.
Green Food Australia managing director and founder Jess Uhlig spoke on key agricultural is-sues, the reduction of food waste and developing natural alternatives to fertilisers.
She focused on the circular economy model of production and consumption, using food waste from throughout the supply chain and returning it to improve soil biology. Ms Uhlig's fully integrated process of turning restaurant waste into fertiliser created much interest amongst farmers.
Etheridge Shire Mayor Barry Hughes spoke to the theme of creating developmental frameworks across northern Australia that ensure agriculture can continue to grow and prosper whilst minimising environmental and cultural impacts.
Cr Hughes referred to the large volume of water available to support the sustainable development of the potential Etheridge Shire agricultural precinct.
He said the concept revolved around bio-regional planning on a catchment scale to derisk development decisions for proponents.
Professor Allan Dale, from James Cook University, supported Mr Hughes' proposal with the presentation of three significant studies into “derisking agriculture in the north” that were com-missioned and funded by the Cooperative Re-search Centre for Developing Northern Australia.
Delegates in attendance were from right across the north, with representatives from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and all parts of Queensland treated to a tour of key agricultural assets of the region, including Skybury, Pinnacle Mangoes and MSF Sugar Mill and its green energy plant.
During the bus tour, delegates heard key presentations from Rabo Research Analyst, Pia Piggott on current and future horticultural trends and Dimbulah free range pig producer, Kathy Rowling of “Hillbillie Heaven Hogs”.
Northern Territory Farmers Association chief executive officer Paul Burke said “the diversity and passion of the agricultural industry displayed in the greater Mareeba region was a credit to all involved”.