Queensland’s Krista Watkins named the 2018 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award National Winner

18.10.18

Queensland’s Walkamin banana grower and food waste innovator Krista Watkins, co-founder of Natural Evolution Foods in Far North Queensland, has been named the 2018 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award National Winner, and Western Australia’s Darrylin Gordon the National Runner Up.

The AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s leading Award in acknowledging and supporting the critical role women play in rural and regional businesses, industries and communities.

Adding to the $10,000 bursary she was awarded as the QLD state winner, Krista will receive an additional $10,000 bursary from Westpac to further progress her winning project, which will look at uncovering by-products for sweet potatoes – an industry which wastes on average 50 tonnes per acre.

“Innovation at the farm gate is a major part of reducing food waste, so I am grateful to AgriFutures Australia and the AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award for giving me a stage on which we can magnify this opportunity to reduce unwanted produce, so that we can create a more sustainable and profitable future,” said Krista.

“Winning this prestigious award further highlights the level of industry support available for women making a difference in rural and regional Australia – no matter how remote you may be based.”

It’s estimated that food waste at the farm gate represents 10 per cent of gross food production, valued at $4 billion.

As a primary producer, Krista said it is difficult for any grower to see so much of their harvest thrown away because there isn’t a market for it, it’s oversupplied, or it doesn’t meet the aesthetic appearance of how consumers think fresh fruit and vegetables should look.

“Growers don’t choose to waste produce, most of the time it is out of our control. Factors such as market supply, weather and consumer demand impact us. By innovating and finding an alternate use through by-products helps to diversify the income stream and dramatically reduce the amount of leftover produce.”

Krista has already started research into developing by-products for the four most common sweet potato varieties grown in Australia.

John Harvey, AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, commended Krista for being an inspiring business woman, a positive rural role model and a warrior against the fight to reduce food waste.

“During these difficult times of drought, Krista exemplifies everything the AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award represents. Through her family business, she is creating change and is driving an inspiring revolution in looking at different ways to generate new on-farm revenue streams and business in regional and rural Australia,” said Mr Harvey.

 

“Krista and Darrylin are a great example of the remarkable women who are bringing about a positive change for their local communities and wider industries.”

The 2018 National Runner Up, Western Australia’s Darrylin Gordon, is looking to develop a skills training camp for unemployed locals in her region. The aim is to develop the community’s skillsets for local jobs and look at life skills, including cooking, work/life balance and how to deal with mental health issues.

Through her work as an Indigenous Community Alcohol and Drugs Officer, Darrylin knows the benefits skills training projects can have in ensuring successful employment. Farming, mining and tourism are the primary employers around Halls Creek however Darrylin noticed that many on-the-job training programs do not focus on up-skilling locals for these industries. As a Jaru woman, Darrylin thrives on her connection to her country and is in the process of planning a three-month skills training project on Lamboo Station, a family owned and run business.

The AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award Platinum Sponsor, Westpac, also congratulated Krista and Darrylin on their innovative projects and for winning the coveted national Award.

“Women make an incredible contribution to the prosperity of rural and regional Australia, whether it’s at home, in the community or out in the paddock. Westpac sees this firsthand so we’re delighted to shine a light on women such as Krista and Darrylin who are some of our country’s most extraordinary women,” said Steve Hannan, National Manager for Westpac Agribusiness.

Mr Hannan commended all the national finalists on their achievements and said he looks forward to seeing how their Westpac bursary helps them to pursue their future success.

The Honourable David Littleproud, MP, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources made the announcement during a black tie gala dinner at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday evening. Both Krista and Darrylin received their awards in front of over 490 guest including, alumni, government officials, industry representatives, media, friends and family of the finalists.

Applications for the 2019 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award are now open and close on Wednesday, 31 October 2018 at 11pm AEDT. Apply now at www.agrifutures.com.au/rwa

Media enquiries:
Sonia Morris, Seftons
sonia.morris@seftons.com.au | 02 6766 5222 | 0421 672 162