The Queensland town of Bundaberg is a major foodbowl for Australia and with recent rocketing consumer demand, the regional farming community has joined with the tourism community to fill lockdown labour gaps and ensure the country’s food security remains in good hands.
With the peak harvesting seasons of autumn and winter now here, Coronavirus impacts have seen the number of seasonal workers dramatically reduced, and many growers have been working double shifts to maintain their steady supply to the country.
Located north of Brisbane in Queensland, Bundaberg is the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and tourism is a major industry for this regional town.
With visitation suddenly stopped and tourism jobs paused, the local peak industry bodies of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Bundaberg Tourism have responded by bringing the highly skilled tourism workers together with the farming community.
From pickers to packers to managers to drivers, staff from the region’s restaurants, attractions and reef operations have filled vital roles and continue to secure Australia’s food supply.
Katherine Reid, CEO of Bundaberg Tourism, said, “Bundaberg is famous globally for its iconic brands of sugar, ginger beer and rum, the raw ingredients of each having grown from the red soil of our beautiful region for many generations.”
“The agriculture and tourism industries of Bundaberg are deeply intertwined. As an emerging foodie destination this relationship between industries underpins our success and its truly fabulous to see members of our tourism family finding alternative employment over this time in our community,” Ms Reid said.
Bree Grima, Managing Director Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers said there were many transferable skills that could assist horticultural producers. “Our producers rely heavily on workers with a range of skills from in-field planting, pruning and harvesting to the packing sheds where quality assurance, sanitation and food safety play a significant role.”
“Local workers are not only learning new skills but are finding ways their skills can be transferred to a new Industry and producers in this region are pleased to support displaced employees willing to work in these challenging times,” she said.
Greensill Farming Group recently welcomed Cameron from Lady Musgrave Experience, one of the region’s Reef operators, who is working in the Earthworks and Development team, putting his marine pilot skills to good use on land.
Damien Botha, General Manager of Greensill Farming Group said, “These are difficult and challenging times we are all currently facing. We feel very fortunate to be able to take on these highly trained individuals from the tourism and hospitality industries right here in Bundaberg. Joining our farming, earthworks, and production teams will see them utilise their skills in a new and challenging way in agriculture.
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