The benefits and achievements of this niche Australian industry were on show at the 2018 Ginger Industry Field Day, where growers and industry partners gathered to hear the latest research and development updates. As the major event on the industry calendar, the field day brought together 41 growers from 23 farming operations, representing 95% of Australia’s ginger production, along with ginger processors and supply chain partners.
The ginger industry joined the AgriFutures Australia rural industries mix in 2010-11, with the introduction of a RD&E levy focused on critical disease issues threatening the industry’s viability. Thanks to the investment, the industry has seen a recovery in production and has a bright outlook for future growth. The levy investment continues to grow from strength to strength and industry priorities outlined in the Ginger Program RD&E Plan 2017 – 2022 have set the direction for future investment.
Built on three critical RD&E objectives, the industry is supporting research projects focused on driving on farm productivity to ensure the industry can compete with fresh ginger imports; market research to identify profitable channels for anticipated production growth; and industry engagement to ensure uptake of research outputs.
Project updates were provided at the 2018 Ginger Industry Field Day, with a number of researchers presenting across a range of themes including parasitic nematodes, tissues culture production, Freshcare food safety and training, and marketing research aimed at boosting the demand for Australian ginger.
Demonstrations at the field day spoke to the industry benefits when it comes to technology adoption. A drone deploy mapping exercise offered insight into how drones can be used in ginger systems for planning and monitoring of blocks, information on controlled release nutrition, irrigation system automation and weather monitoring were also highlighted as opportunities to improve business practices.
Ginger production is both labour and capital intensive, and technology adoption in the industry is an area of great opportunity, particularly for younger growers, according to AgriFutures™ Ginger Program Advisory Panel member, Nicole Christodoulou of Carter & Spencer Group.
“A big challenge is getting young people into the ginger industry, and one way to attract young people is to promote the use of technology in the industry. It is a hard crop to grow but we want to get people excited about what technology can offer to grow such a magnificent crop,” said Ms Christodoulou.
A new extension project in the mix led by Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Senior Agribusiness Development Officer, Zane Nicholls, expects to have widespread benefits for growers.
“Disease management is a high priority, and the roll out of the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Assurance program and clean seed program will support growers to increase productivity, farm gate profitability and competitiveness,” said Mr Nicholls.
“Raising the bar for food safety and security is particularly important to maintain the clean, green image of Australian ginger and we’ll be working to achieve a 100 per cent accreditation rate with our growers.
“The clean seed program builds on previous AgriFutures Australia funded research and will see 10,000 ginger plugs distributed to growers for propagation. The plugs will provide a greater volume of clean seed for planting into a mother plot for future clean seed supply.
”Research project updates, grower events and R&D activities will continue to be shared widely in collaboration with the Australian Ginger Industry Association.
As the industry looks forward to another productive season, the AgriFutures™ Ginger Program Advisory Panel will be working behind the scenes to determine future industry investment in RD&E. As part of this process, the AgriFutures™ Ginger Program Open Call has been launched offering researchers and suitably qualified experts an opportunity to submit research proposals to address industry RD&E objectives including driving productivity, lifting the demand for Australian ginger and industry engagement are key industry priorities.
The AgriFutures™ Ginger Program Open Call closes Tuesday, 25 September 2018.
AgriFutures™ Ginger Open Call Fast facts
- Ginger production is concentrated in South East Queensland with small production areas located in Far North Queensland, Northern NSW and the Northern Territory.
- The ginger industry consists of approximately 50 growers, with 25 growers representing in excess of 95% of Australia’s ginger production.
- Farm-gate gross volume of product (GVP) is estimated at $32 million with 20% of ginger grown in Australia sold to the processing sector and 80% sold to the domestic fresh market.