CEO column – Jim Pekin

Growers are fully aware of the tough situation in the industry currently, with low banana prices and increasing input costs causing major financial stress.

Input Costs

All of Australia, including growers, are all feeling the impact of world issues through significant increases in fuel prices.

Countries emerging from COVID and increasing their travel has increased the demand for fuels, but that has not been met by an increase in oil production. Another part of the issue is that Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers.

The farm sector is also facing increases in the prices of fertiliser and chemical as a result of the oil price increase. While individual growers have no influence on geopolitical dynamics on their own, there is a greater chance of addressing escalating input costs when farmers join forces.

ABGC is a member of the NFF’s Horticultural Council, where NFF has called for a domestic manufacturing strategy for highly-vulnerable critical inputs for the farm sector.

The NFF Horticulture Council has also been progressing access to farm staff.

NFF has detailed to the Government how it should enhance Australia’s programs for international farm workers, create pathways for more Australians to pursue a career in agriculture and to partner with industry to tackle farm worker exploitation.

One of the outcomes is the commencement of the Ag Visa Program, starting with an agreement struck with Vietnam.

Banana Supply and Prices

We have a situation where current production levels are not being matched by consumer demand. Growers are reminded that it is best practice to check with your market agents before consigning fruit.

In addition, ABGC has recently launched a social media campaign #nana4afarmer. It highlights input cost issues and encourages consumers to continue to support Aussie banana growers by going out and buying a ‘nana for a farmer’ (Pronounced ‘Nah-nah for a farma’).

Also, members could check the Weekly Wholesale Price data that ABGC buys, available on our website:[1]report/ Bananas are in competition with other products, many of which don’t experience the quality issues that bananas have had in recent weeks.

Panama TR4

Our thanks goes to all those growers who took the time to give their views on the ‘Panama TR4 Program Transition’ Discussion Paper.

It can now be used as a plan on how ABGC will run the new TR4 containment Program from July 2023. ABGC wrote to, and then recently met with, the Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner on the future TR4 Program.

We pointed out that ABGC is keen to continue to contain the spread of the disease by running a new TR4 biosecurity program when the Government funding of the current one comes to an end, on 30 June 2023. We noted that growers are prepared to fund the proposed new program, costing $1.6m per year. However, we asked the Minister to support the industry, via a request to Government to share in the costs of diagnostics and the cost to ensure compliance with the proposed regulated parts of the Code of Practice.