Tourism & agriculture working together
The Queensland town of Bundaberg is a major food bowl for Australia, and with recent rocketing consumer demand, the farming community has joined with the tourism industry 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, COVID-19 impacts have seen the number of seasonal workers dramatically reduced, and many growers have been working double shifts in an attempt to maintain their supply to the country.
Located north of Brisbane, Bundaberg is the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and tourism is a major industry for the region. With visitation stopped and tourism jobs paused, the local industry bodies of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Bundaberg Tourism responded by bringing tourism workers together with the farming community.
From pickers and packers to managers and drivers, staff from the region’s restaurants, tourist attractions and reef operations have filled vital agricultural roles that will help continue to secure Australia’s food supply.
“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,” says Katherine Reid, CEO of Bundaberg Tourism.
“The agriculture and tourism industries of Bundaberg are deeply intertwined. As an emerging foodie destination, this relationship between industries underpins our success, and it’s truly fabulous to see members of our tourism family finding alternative employment over this time in our community.”
Bree Grima, Managing Director of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers says 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,” she says.
“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.”
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.
“These are difficult and challenging times we are all currently facing,” says Damien Botha, General Manager of Greensill Farming Group. “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.”