Industry body for horticulture, Growcom and the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) have announced the appointment of Lana Baskerville as the new Strawberry Industry Recovery Officer (IRO).
Ms Baskerville’s appointment forms part of the Queensland Government’s $1 million Strawberry Industry Support Package, announced in September 2018.
Growcom Chief Advocate, Rachel Mackenzie said Ms Baskerville will work for the strawberry industry; connecting growers to the various support packages available to aid in their ongoing recovery.
“There are a number of support packages available to growers ranging from low interest loans, to farm debt restructuring assistance, financial counselling, workforce support, and personal wellbeing services,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“This support will go a long way towards safeguarding the reputation of Australian fruit, and restoring confidence among growers who are already focused on getting current harvest to market or planning for next season.”
Ms Baskerville said she looked forward to meeting with strawberry growers from the different regions over the next couple of months.
“My plan is to gather a clear picture of the industry to better understand grower needs individually and collectively in order to connect them to support that is available and communicate back to government to ensure industry has all it needs to recover smoothly,” Ms Baskerville said.
“Queensland strawberry farmers take pride in what they grow and want their produce to arrive for sale in the same condition that it left the farm.”
“I will work closely with them and the broader supply chains to help ensure a strong future for the industry.”
Ms Baskerville begins her role in November 2018 on a part-time basis.
There are approximately 100 strawberry growers in Queensland who produce up to 30,000 tonnes each season which counts for about 40 percent of Australia’s annual strawberry production.
The strawberry industry’s contribution to the state economy for 2017–18 is forecast to be valued at $160 million.