Damage records tell a grim story for Queensland horticulture

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 18th January 2011

Peak horticulture organisation Growcom today reminded Queenslanders and the state government that repercussions of Queensland’s floods will echo beyond the immediate losses, with disastrous weather since November seriously hitting a number of other horticultural growing regions in the state, and that urgent action was needed to assist all growers who had lost their livelihoods.

“Growcom offers our deepest condolences to families who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods in Queensland as a result of the floods,” said Chief Executive Officer, Alex Livingstone.

“Top of mind for most people has been the tragic loss of lives, businesses and homes in the town of Grantham and the Lockyer Valley generally, a major fruit and vegetable growing area. As deeply distressing as these events have been, other horticultural areas affected by the floods include Emerald, Chinchilla, Mundubbera, Gayndah, Bundaberg, Kingaroy, Stanthorpe, Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Logan, Kalbar, Boonah, Mackay, Proserpine and Yeppoon.”

Livingstone said damage bills were likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and it would be many months before production could return to normal.

Growcom is contacting growers and compiling damage records which include:

* Outright loss of vegetable and fruit crops
* Loss of orchard trees
* Lack of access to paddocks for harvesting activities and delays to planting of new crops
* Loss of quality in harvested crops due to transport delays caused by the lack of an all weather road between North Queensland and markets in the south
* Loss of farm infrastructure
* Loss of skilled workers due to cessation of work for extended periods.

“Many of these losses were similarly faced by growers following the devastation wrought by Cyclone Larry in 2006, although this time over a far greater area,” said Mr Livingstone.

“The industry recovery and support operation after Cyclone Larry lasted for two years and included up to three Industry Support Officers (ISO) working with horticulture growers to ensure that they were aware of and could access the appropriate government, social and health assistance,” he said.

“Rapid action is now needed to assist growers in devastated regions who have lost their livelihoods, given that some areas were affected more than three weeks ago.”

Livingstone said that Growcom would continue to impress on government the need for industry based assistance officers who understood the needs of horticulture in affected regions as an efficient conduit between government and those growers who needed to access assistance and emotional support.

“Growcom can assist growers to apply for government assistance. There is a comprehensive list of government funding available to the horticulture industry on our web site