Queensland’s agriculture sector is growing jobs as well as sugar cane, chickpeas and avocados.
Despite the drought affecting large parts of the state, there’s been a rich harvest of new employment opportunities in agriculture, forestry and fishing in the past 12 months.
Agriculture minister Mark Furner said the sector had created 10,500 new jobs between June 2017 and June 2018.
“The latest Labour Force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows primary production in Queensland continues to do much more than put food on our plates,” said Furner.
“The new high growth crop for Queensland’s farms is jobs and that’s because our producers and food sector businesses are working hard to take advantage of new opportunities. It is also because the programs put in place by the Palaszczuk government are working,” he said.
Creating jobs for Queenslanders was the government’s highest priority.
“Our produce has a fantastic reputation for quality and reliability both at home and abroad. That is why it is in demand and our farmers are meeting that demand,” said Furner.
The agriculture industry continued to grow on the back of technological advances and the courting of expanding Asian export markets, he said.
“The Palaszczuk government has invested tens of millions of dollars to ensure the produce we send overseas is not only of the highest quality but is also tailored to specific regional tastes, whether that be in markets in Japan or supermarket shelves in Indonesia,” he said.
“We have also continued to support the Queensland Agriculture Workers Network (QAWN) and Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance to support and facilitate employment opportunities for people in rural and regional parts of the state.
“In this year’s budget more than $3 million was allocated to these programs to continue the good work being done in this area,” said Furner.
Carl Walker, president of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association and owner of Phantom Produce, said QAWN was playing an important role in helping producers to expand their workforces.
It assisted growers in the North Queensland region to connect with the available employment and training initiatives, he said.
“As farmers we are able to go about our core business of growing fruit and vegetables, QAWN provides us with an essential information resource to help us to attract and employ people with the right skills and attributes at all stages of the season,” said Walker.