Growers’ e-bulletin – September 1, 2017



1 September, 2017

ABGC board meeting highlights
Latest production figures
Ergon remote meter-reading changes
MIP launch
Reef Extension and grants
Cat C grant applications closing
Australian Bananas new bold marketing move
Banana Magazine in the post!

ABGC Board meeting 

The ABGC Board met in Mareeba for their August meeting last week – amongst issues discussed were:

·         The immediate establishment of a working group to liaise with government and community to ensure a co-ordinated effort is made on feral pig management. This group has since been busy and is led by Leon Collins, a Tully Director.

·          The Board met with Tablelands growers and they also heard the presentation on the quickly evolving digital advertising space by Hort Innovation marketing manager Elisa King and advertising strategists, Ikon Communications.

Another record production year

Some growers may not be aware that the last financial year was another record year for production.

Based on levies received by Hort Innovation, in 2016/2017, Australia marketed 414,000 tonnes of bananas, up from 393,000 tonnes in 2015/2016.

Remote Ergon meter reading 

Ergon Energy has commenced a program to transition the majority of NQ banana growers across to remote meter reads where the 3/4G network is available, so that Ergon employees do not have to enter banana properties.

In light of Panama TR4 biosecurity concerns, Ergon made the decision to stop all entry of their meter readers onto farms, using an estimated account system.

It has since advised that it will run a program until the end of November, transferring all eligible growers over to the ‘remote’ meter-reading system.

There is no cost to banana producers for the meter switch over.

All growers that will be affected will receive a letter advising when Ergon will need to access their properties to install the meters, which requires the power to be switched off temporarily while works are completed.

If growers have not received advice that they will be moved across to remote readers, Ergon advises they should contact them on 13 74 66 during business hours and have their NMI number handy.

The NMI (National Meter Identifier) is a 10-digit unique number found on their electricity account for the metered site or the local network provider.  Ergon can then advise whether there is a job in the system, and if not, advise the grower whether they are eligible to have remotely read meters installed or their options to upgrade their current system.

Major reef project gains traction

A multi-million-dollar project involving growers in the Wet Tropics, designed to improve water quality to the Great Barrier Reef, is moving into its implementation phase.

Queensland Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles announced the start of on-ground action for the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (MIP) at a launch in Cairns last night.

Up to $15 million dollars will be invested in the MIP over the next three years, following a comprehensive six-month design phase, which involved industry stakeholders, including growers.

The project is being co-ordinated by Terrain NRM, in close collaboration with landholders in priority areas in the Tully and Johnstone basins, to trial a range of regionally tailored, coordinated actions that reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff into local waterways.

The MIP investment will include;

·         CATCHMENT REPAIR AND TREATMENT SYSTEMS (up to $4.6 million)

The MIP will install, trial and monitor catchment repair and treatment systems to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef, including bioreactors, wetlands, high efficiency sediment basins and riparian buffer zones.

·         FARM SERVICES (up to $4.7 million)

The MIP will accelerate practice change by investing in five extension staff, performance-based incentives and technical support for landholders

·         LOCAL SCALE MONITORING (up to $2.9 million)

The MIP will design and deliver nested local scale water monitoring across 14 new sites, and work closely with farmers and the community to be an active partner in understanding water quality issues and solutions.

·         OUR CATCHMENT – OUR COMMUNITY (up to $1.5 million)

The MIP will invest in communications, grants and technical support to implement a mix of non-agricultural improvements, as well as catchment wide communication and engagement tools.

·         INFLUENCING (up to $0.6 million)

The MIP will also explore innovative financing and investment opportunities, and seek to implement ecosystem service payments that support water quality activities.

Water quality reef extension and grants

A reminder there is on-going water quality extension support available for banana growers in the Wet Tropics and Cape York. This support is available for growers that are making on-farm nutrient and sediment management practice change.

Monday, October 2, 2017, marks the opening of Expressions of Interest for the next round of incentive grants for water quality improvements. So now is the time to get ahead of the pack and let the team know what you’re planning to do so that we can assist you in this process.

Don’t forget, to be eligible for water quality incentive grants and extension support you must have completed or updated (within the last 12 months) your Banana BMP!

Get in touch with Sarah or Dale on (07) 4015 2797 for further information on extension support and incentive grants.

Cyclone assistance closing

Banana growers in Northern NSW who were impacted by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie are reminded that Category C grant applications close for Lismore and Tweed Shires on 27 October, 2017 and Ballina and Byron Shires on 24 November, 2017.

Full details of the grants and the application process are available from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority website at

The Rural Financial Counselling Service office in Casino is willing to help growers prepare their applications and can be contacted on 02 6662 5055 or through the website at


A reminder to Tweed and Brunswick growers that the Tweed/Brunswick Banana Growers’ Association Annual General Meeting will be held next week, on Wednesday 6 September.

The meeting will at the Murwillumbah Golf Club Meeting Room, Byangum Road, Murwillumbah, from 6pm.

Banana industry weighs-in on nation’s health

Australian Bananas has thrown its support behind a bold new marketing campaign aimed at encouraging Aussie families to take the first step towards better health by stepping on the scales.

Set to be launched on Fathers’ Day this Sunday, the inaugural Weight Check 2017 initiative aims to get dads and all Australian adults to better understand their current weight and take action towards living a healthier life by utilising a handy online tool.

By stepping on the scales and registering their weight at participants will be able to find out how they measure on the Body Mass Index scale and learn their how their projected weight may creep into the future if they do not manage their weight.

The banana industry’s promotional mascot ‘Benny Banana’ will appear at select Sydney train stations, on national television, social media and other locations as part of the campaign.

Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said the banana industry identified Weight Check 2017 as an ideal marketing investment opportunity.

“Bananas are the non-stop energy snack, so it made sense for us to partner with SP Health to deliver this creative campaign to help Aussies curb their weight and encourage them to take up healthier food options like snacking on an Australian banana,” he said.

Banana Magazine on its way!

Keep an eye on your mailbox for the latest edition of the Australian Banana Magazine!

As always the September issue is packed full of industry news and events, including a full wrap of Congress 2017, all the colour and results from the Innisfail and Tully Shows’ banana exhibits and the latest R&D progress, including breeding for disease resistance in bananas.

If you are not on the magazine mailing list, please contact the ABGC head office by emailing

Hort Innovation


This e-bulletin is produced by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council as a part of the Communications Project for the Banana Industry funded by HIA Ltd using the banana industry R&D levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.