Bundaberg has been highlighted as the second fastest growing agricultural region in Queensland, with sugar, fruit and vegetable industries expanding exponentially in the 2022-23 financial year.
It comes as the latest AgTrends data was recently released showcasing the state's agriculture and fisheries sector breaking another record valuation of $23.44 billion.
The new high for the financial year eclipses the previous record of $23.37 billion in 2021-22.
Bundaberg was described as a “major success story” by the State Government upon the release of the data, with the region having some of the best performing commodities for both size and fastest growth of Gross Value Production in Queensland.
The region has also come in third for GVP ($837 million) and second for growth of GVP, up 10.1%.
The report states sugarcane and sugar processing reached a combined valuation of almost $2.5 billion across the nation.
Among the strongest growing commodities were Queensland’s world-class fresh produce, with apples, table grapes, pineapples, avocados, and bananas all in the top 10 for growth.
Promising signs in region’s fast-growing agricultural sectors:
Sugar: Three years ago, sugar production in the Wide Bay Region had fallen by 14%. In 2023 sugar growers are producing to a healthy market and will be buoyed by renewed viability coming into the crushing season.
Cattle: While cattle prices have been easing since January 2023, the region’s often-underestimated livestock producers have been a great contributor to regional Gross Value Product (GVP) over the past medium term.
Macadamias: While macadamia growers have seen prices drop to a 10-year low, prices are stabilising, and plantings continue.
Berries: Non-traditional agricultural enterprises, such as berry production, are innovating and expanding in the region. New varieties are coming online allowing growers to produce out of season, and at the high end of the market.
New stats good news for region’s producers
CEO of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Bree Watson said it was good news for the region's producers.
“We’re really proud but not surprised by these figures, we’ve seen massive growth in the region over the last couple of years and many of those new plantings are just coming into harvest which has helped increase the regional value,” she said.
“We know agriculture is one of the largest employment industries in the region and whether you’re directly employed working on farm or you have a business that has farmers as customers we all share in the economic prosperity of the sector.”
Ms Watson said the data also highlighted why water security was so vital to the Bundaberg Region.
“Without reliable water we can’t continue to be the largest growing region in Australia for sweet potatoes, chilli, passionfruit and macadamias and contribute to the central Queensland region which is the largest growing region by size for avocados,” she said.
“We look forward to increased growth in coming years due to the progressive nature of our farmers.”
Diversity and resilience underpins second fastest agricultural region
Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated those in the industry on the report’s findings.
“The agricultural sector in the Bundaberg Region continues to prosper and grow,” he said.
“This continuing vigour and adaptation of the local agricultural sector reflects the resilience inherent to our producers.
“This is further testament to the great diversity in agricultural production in our region which captures benefit across the majority of the growth ag enterprises.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said Bundaberg was one of many regions across the state experiencing exceptional growth.
“Queensland’s produce is world-class, so it’s no surprise our state’s ag sector is breaking records,” he said.
“Despite challenges presented by COVID and floods, our agribusinesses continue to go from strength to strength.”
The latest Queensland AgTrends data is available here.