Consumer demand for fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables is the inspiration behind Bundaberg horticulture growers, Cross Family Farms project partially funded by a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant.
Delivering 10 per cent of Queensland’s fresh vegetables, Cross Family Farms will see two new cold rooms constructed to assist with supply to help meet the ever-growing demand for their produce.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner said Cross Family Farms are one of 16 businesses to receive a RED Grant of up to $200,000 to assist with economic development in regional Queensland.
“Improving on-farm operations will help Cross Family Farms increase their vegetable production with the project expected to create up to 50 new job opportunities in the Bundaberg region,” Furner said.
“These grants are about backing our farmers to take on the world and supporting vital growth to create good jobs in traditional industries like agriculture. Our agriculture sector is expected to have a gross value of production of more than $23 billion this financial year, and projects like this prove there is even better to come.”
Sales and Compliance manager of Cross Family Farms, Clinton Phillips said the new cold rooms will improve cold chain management for the business and packhouse production.
“Our current cold rooms are outdated and not efficient for the business as they cannot hold the large amount of produce we are harvesting,” Phillips said.
“This project will increase our capacity by more than 50 per cent, improve the shelf life of the produce and enable export opportunities.”
Cross Family Farms grows a large variety of vegetables including tomatoes, snow peas, capsicum, chilli, green beans, butter beans, borlotti beans, zucchini, grey pumpkin, jap pumpkin and more.
Phillips said that in the past decade consumers’ appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables has increased dramatically, which is why the cold room technology is so important for growers.
“In the past decade, consumers both domestically and internationally expect to be able to purchase fresh, not frozen, fruit and vegetables all year round,” he said.
“This has led to fresh horticulture produce being chilled, packed and transported thousands of kilometres interstate, and much further to export markets from farms like ours. Fast chilling to target storage temperatures is a major step to successfully achieving these market expectations.”
Cross Family Farms is one of 16 businesses approved in the fourth round of the RED Grants program with total funding of just over $3 million. Overall, these 16 projects are expected to create more than 217 direct long-term jobs across regional Queensland.
The initial three rounds of the RED Grants program have seen funding of $10 million over three years to support more than 30 projects which have created 1,800 jobs across regional Queensland.
The Queensland government has continued its investment with a further $6.6 million to be delivered in two rounds over the next two years to generate more jobs, expand agricultural supply chains and provide significant economic benefit to rural areas.
For more information about the RED Grant scheme, visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au.