Sustainability framework for growers

27th July 2021 | Eativity editors

Limiting food waste and packaging and boosting water and energy efficiency are just some of the priorities outlined in a new Australian-Grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework. This has been developed by Hort Innovation, in collaboration with industry.

Created with input from more than 600 industry participants, the framework details 17 areas that align with existing business initiatives as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It provides the whole of industry and individual growers a way of understanding and measuring the sustainability of horticultural production. It also provides guidance for plotting a path toward a more sustainable future.

Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand says the framework has been developed for Australian horticulture industry members at a time when consumers and investors are increasingly asking for evidence of ethical and sustainable practices from their food producers.

“The aim of this framework is to acknowledge the significant contribution Australian fresh produce growers make,” he says. “Both to the nation’s families and the environment through the provision of fresh and nutritious food. It also promotes responsible care for our natural environment and provides a vital roadmap for a stronger farming future.”

Sustainability framework for Australian horticulture
Fresh, clean and green: there are more than 12,000 horticultural farms and nurseries across the country.

A foundation document

Brand says the initiative aligns with a range of research efforts being delivered by Hort Innovation. These are in line with the target to grow agricultural value to $100 billion by 2030. The horticulture sector alone is committed to being a $20 billion industry by 2030.

Shane Quinn, National Sales Manager at Mulgowie Farming Company, says the framework will be a useful resource for the industry.

“We’re proud to use sustainable practices when growing nutritious produce in our healthy soils,” he says. “We look forward to the framework providing the means to demonstrate positive environmental impacts and industry issues of concern to a range of stakeholders.”

Joseph Ebbage, Market Development Manager at the Almond Board of Australia, says sustainability is important to customers both domestically and internationally.

“Our trade partners are looking for suppliers that can meet sustainability metrics,” he says. “Our ability to illustrate sustainability credentials is vital to maintaining these relationships. The framework provides an invaluable foundation document for our industry.”

Sustainability framework for Australian horticulture
Almonds are our most valuable horticultural export. The new framework will provide surety for trading partners.

A step forward

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Horticulture Council has welcomed the release of the framework. The council has labelled it as a “practical step forward for the industry”.

“The sustainability framework brings horticulture in line with other agriculture commodities with a strong vision for a sustainable industry,” says NFF Horticulture Council Executive Officer Tyson Cattle. “It’s a great example of what can be achieved when industry and the research and development community work together.”

Stephen Barnard, CEO of Growcom, peak industry body for Queensland horticulture, says the framework is a significant step forward, and serves an important purpose in bringing the many pieces of the sustainability puzzle together in one clear and coherent document.

“To thrive as an industry, we must keep realigning ourselves with the values of consumers and investors,” he says. “We must forever be looking for new tools that will make us not just more sustainable, but more profitable.”