Sugarcane remains vital Bundaberg industry

Harvest lunch
Pictured at the Harvest Lunch, from left: Nick Behrens, Jason Bartels, Sheila Charlesworth, Dale Holliss, Dean Cayley and Robert Powell.

CANEGROWERS has analysed the economic contribution of the sugarcane industry to the Bundaberg economy and found it remains a critical driver.

The key finding of the report indicates that one dollar in economic activity in cane growing supports an additional $6.40 elsewhere in the economy and that a vibrant and competitive sugarcane industry is crucial to the prosperity and growth of Bundaberg.

The report demonstrates that sugarcane is generating wealth, promoting economic growth and supporting jobs, wages and the livelihoods of thousands of Bundaberg residents.

Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated CANEGROWERS on commissioning the report.

“It validates the knowledge we have that sugarcane remains a critical driver in the Bundaberg Region economy,” he said.

“We’ve seen some movement into other industries but sugarcane will continue to make a significant contribution for many years to come.”

The report tells the whole supply-chain story, providing a real-world understanding of the importance of the sector that underpins the  Bundaberg community.

Sugarcane farming has a significant value-chain both upstream and downstream including sugar mills, transport operators, ports, planting and harvesting contractors, fuel distributors, fertiliser and chemical retailers, farm machinery retailers, irrigation equipment suppliers, and accountants and insurance brokers.

The report highlights that it is the aggregation of all of these individual businesses in the value chain that collectively leads cane growing to be an essential industry in Bundaberg supporting approximately $436 million in economic activity, more than 1800 jobs and 1700 businesses.

To put these numbers into perspective, one in four Bundaberg businesses and one in 15 Bundaberg jobs is involved in the sugarcane value chain.

The report indicates that for every $100 dollars circulating in Bundaberg’s $4.1 billion economy, sugarcane accounts for $10.63 of that.

However the contribution is not only the economic importance of cane growing but how it acts as a foundation for prosperity across the community.

The report has captured quotes from across the supply chain articulating what cane growing means to not only their business but their community as well.

Many business indicated that the local cane industry had been not only the backbone of their business but the community had benefited as well due to employment and stimulus across the supply chain.

Stakeholders highlighted that other industries such as fruit and vegetable industry had benefited from cane growing as it provided the critical mass for a viable irrigation scheme and also advocacy on key issues such as irrigation tariffs and water security.

Finally the report highlighted that sugarcane had been a large part of many Bundaberg resident’s lives and a major contributor to the city.

Stakeholder consultation as part of the report indicated that cane growing had been hugely important to the fabric of the area because of the history and tradition through considerable family linkages and generational linkages.

The report concludes that  the fortunes of cane growing and the Bundaberg community are crucially intertwined.

The report was authored by Nick Behrens (Director, Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions) and Gene Tunny (Adept Economics).