Growers’ e-bulletin – January 21, 2021


21 January, 2021


Labour shortages: what’s happening now
Have your say on HARPS Standard Version 2.0 
New campaign to protect bananas
Final chance to dig into Darryl’s knowledge
Comment on new draft environmental regs
New soil health group in Tully region 
New Year – Next Gen
Bunchy Top National Project 
PMA A-NZ Produce Executive Program 
   Free farm safety courses in QLD 
Comment on chemical regs reform
Congress Foundation Sponsor: Visy


Labour shortages: what’s happening now

160 Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) workers touched down in Australia earlier this month to help Far North Queensland banana growers harvest their fruit. While it’s a welcome step in the right direction, the ABGC notes this goes nowhere near addressing industry-wide labour shortages. 
The ABGC has asked the Queensland Government to provide quarantine options for the large numbers of SWP workers needed to work on banana farms. With international borders still closed, these conversations are continuing.
The ABGC is also aware that some current SWP workers are exhausted and desperate to get home to their families.  We will continue to ask the Government to assist repatriations with an exchange of job ready SWP workers.
Growers expecting worker shortages are encouraged to contact Leanne at ABGC on 07 3278 4786 to discuss issues.
We also ask growers who haven’t already done so, to list local job vacancies on the ABGC website and with Harvest Trail.


Have your say on HARPS Standard Version 2.0

As noted in our e-bulletin of 15 January, consultation on HARPS Standard Version 2.0 was extended (as a result of requests by ABGC and others) and will now close on 31 January. ABGC encourages members to access relevant documents here and complete the “Version 2 Comments Form” and submit this form directly to

What is changing?

You can find a summary of proposed changes between Version 1 and Version 2 of the HARPS standard, here. We recommend you read this document carefully. In addition, the HARPS Standard Version 2.0 Guidance document provides critical detail for your information or feedback.

ABGC input

ABGC is developing a submission to Hort Innovation – which maintains oversight and ownership of the HARPS scheme – to discuss the industry feedback we have received, including on the new management structure involving One Direction ANZ, which has taken over operational management of the scheme.

As your industry development organisation, we will formally submit feedback received from Members prior to the consultation period deadline of 31 Jan. Therefore, we encourage you to submit your feedback directly to HARPS and/or contact Jim Pekin, ABGC with your views: 07 3278 4786 or


Final chance to dig into Darryl’s knowledge

Far North Queensland soil conservationist, Darryl Evans, is retiring and moving at the end of February 2021 and ABGC are running a free workshop for growers to draw on his knowledge before he goes. It’ll also be an opportunity for farmers to share on-farm knowledge and experiences. 

This workshop aims to inform banana growers about improving soil and nutrient retention on farms to benefit the productivity and future of banana farming businesses, along with the health of the environment.

Growers in the Wet Tropics can choose one of two workshop times to be held at the Centre for Wet Tropics Agriculture, South Johnstone: Wednesday 3 and Friday 5 February, 1-4pm.

Contact the Best Practice Team on 0447 000 203 or via for more information or to book your spot. Limited numbers available.


New draft environmental regulations are open for consultation

From 1 June 2021, new or expanded commercial cropping and horticulture activities on five hectares or more that do not have a cropping history will require an environmental authority (permit) before the activity or any work takes place. A cropping history is when cropping or horticultural activities have been undertaken on the land for at least three out of the last 10 years (with at least one of the years being in the last five years).

Officers from the Office of the Great Barrier Reef are meeting with growers to explain the proposed regulations and receive feedback. If you would like to participate in the consultation you must RSVP as participant numbers need to be managed for COVID- 19 safety reasons. Please RSVP to

The consultation sessions are:

  • Mareeba League’s Club – 28 January 10am – 12pm
  • Lakeland Community Centre – 29 January 9am – 11am
  • South Johnstone Research Station (Innisfail) – 4 February 1pm – 3pm
  • Queensland Women’s Association Hall, Tully – 5 February 10am – 12pm

The ABGC strongly encourages you to attend one of these sessions so that you can hear the government’s proposal and provide feedback about the potential impact on your plans for farming into the future. 

Find out more about the draft regulations here.


New soil health group in Tully region

A new Lower Wet Tropics Soil Care Group is keen to hear from growers interested in networking, shared learning, paddock trials and soil health-related events.

With an ever-increasing focus on caring for your soil, a committee of farmers from across the cane, grazing and horticulture industries has been working with Terrain NRM to establish the group. 

To find out more, phone canegrower Alan Lynn on 0419 722 101 or Michael Waring on 0428 771 361. You can also check out the details here.


New Year – New thinking – NextGen

Are you a young or young at heart banana grower keen to connect and share experiences with other banana growers? The industry’s NextGen banana growers’ group is all about getting together and having a chat, as well as visiting and learning from other industries. Check out this video to hear about the NextGen group and why growers participate.

There is a NextGen group in North Queensland and in NSW. If you are a grower in NQ and want to get involved, contact Tegan Kukulies on 0459 846 053 or If you’re a grower in NSW, contact Tom Flanagan on 0437 654 633 or

The NextGen initiative is part of the National Banana Development and Extension Program (BA19004). This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the Hort Innovation banana research and development levy, co-investment from the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, New South Wales Department of Primary industries and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.


Bunchy Top National Project

The Bunchy Top National Project is gearing up for another big year, working with industry and community to address the devastating viral disease within in the current containment zone.

You can find a range of new resources online, including downloadable brochures and guides for keeping bananas healthy. Visit and report any potential sightings to the hotline on 1800 068 371.

TOP TIP: When looking for Bunchy Top, remember to look for the dot dash pattern on new leaves. That’s Morse code for ‘my banana plant might have Bunchy Top’.


PMA A-NZ Produce Executive Program

The Produce Executive Program, scheduled from May 23-28 at Deakin University, is a forum on global trends, next generation innovation and a dynamic exchange between business insiders, executives and experienced teachers.

Combining personal and professional development, participants will expand their networks, improve management skills and gain an insight into key market issues.

More details, including registration fees and speakers, can be found here.



Free farm safety courses in QLD

Queensland based employers, employees and jobseekers can access a range of farm safety courses at no cost, until March 2021.

The initiative is funded by the Queensland Government and delivered through SafeFarm by OTrain.

Funded courses cover topics including working in a horticultural field environment, as well as safety in the packing and processing of fresh food.

For more information visit or call 07 3040 3313.


Comment on chemical regulation reforms

The draft report from an independent review of the Australian agvet chemicals regulatory system is now open for comment. 

The Panel conducting the review took into account a range of considerations, including Australia’s place in the international market and an increasing focus on the safety of people, animals, plants, and ecosystems – while still supporting pest and disease management. 

More information, including how to comment, can be found here. Submissions close February 26 with recommendations to the Minister expected in May this year.   


Banana Congress 2021 – Our Foundation Sponsor

The countdown is on! In just a few months, the banana industry will be gathering in Cairns for Congress 2021.

Our industry’s premier event – to be held from May 12-14 – wouldn’t be possible without the help of our fantastic sponsors, including our Foundation Sponsor and long-time supporter Visy.


A massive thank you to the team at Visy. We look forward to seeing you at Congress!



Contact Details
It is important that ABGC is advised if you know of growers who are not receiving these e-bulletins or the Australian Banana magazine. We may have out of date email or postal addresses for these growers. Please email any updated contact details to:

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