Australian Murcott mandarin growers have a new tool to help them win export sales, with backing from the national Farming Together program.
Developed for the Queensland Citrus Exporters Group, the new training materials will ensure quality standards, including fruit appearance, to secure domestic and export sales.
A QA manual, standards booklet and poster were developed through the Australian Government-backed Farming Together program to reduce the variability of fruit being offered to buyers.
Project officer Zane Nicholls from Nambour said: “It was a great project and one that is very usable elsewhere. Many growers in this industry – and others – can benefit from this.”
Farming Together consultant Chris Capel helped the group develop the tools, including a 56-page Murcott variety manual. “The guide will provide an instant source of information on quality parameters for all current packing facilities to fine-tune their controls,” she said. The project also included training sessions and benchmarking exercises and a poster designed to be displayed in packaging-shed lunchrooms and quality control zones.
“These products have been delivered to group members with favourable feedback,” said Chris. “The information will be of extreme importance for any new business, staff member or emerging industry looking for a reference point.
“This opportunity will allow the project legacy to remain for many years. It will provide a lasting impression on the Murcott export market.”
Chris said the tools could also be shared with other mandarin-growing regions and producers. “The products could definitely be retrofit to suit other citrus industries, for example, lemons. There may even be wider appeal across horticulture industries for these products than anticipated.”
Zane said Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would be extending the Farming Together work to improve the uniformity of Murcotts packed for export markets. “That will build on Australia’s reputation for delivering quality produce,” he added.
Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said: “The growing international appetite for Australian citrus fruit requires conformity of standards. We congratulate the Queensland growers for collaborating in this project.”
The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program (known as Farming Together) is a two-year, $13.8m initiative from the Australian Government designed to help agricultural groups value-add, secure premium pricing, scale-up production, attract capital investment, earn new markets or secure lower input costs.
In less than two years Farming Together has had contact with more than 21,000 farmers, making it possibly Australia’s largest farmer agency. It has supported more than 730 collaborative farm, fish and forestry groups. In its first year the program turned a $9.21m Australian Government investment into $20.45m of value-added production, creating 131 full-time equivalent jobs. And in less than a year it fostered 180 co-ops, possibly the largest number of co-ops in Australian farming history.
The Farming Together pilot program is being delivered by Southern Cross University and runs until 30 June 2018. The program delivery team comprises highly experienced senior staff drawn from a wide range of commodity groups from across Australia and is backed by an industry advisory group representing experts from Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and NSW.
For more info: www.farmingtogether.com.au
Publication date: 6/21/2018