A North Queensland mango farm will set a new industry benchmark for mango quality control and create up to 62 regional jobs with a funding boost from the Palaszczuk Government.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Marto’s Mangoes in Bowen was one of 14 businesses in Queensland to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $250,000 to fund the expansion of their business.
“Marto’s Mangoes farms 20,000 trees across three farms and is already an industry leader with 30 years’ experience in producing and marketing mangoes but an expansion will mean an even higher standard of fruit leaves the region, along with employment opportunities for skilled workers and young people,” Mr Furner said.
Existing technology limits mango maturity testing to selecting fruit at random and cutting by hand, which ends up in waste or using a NIR (near infrared spectrometer) gun to measure maturity on a single piece of fruit, but advanced technology will allow Marto’s Mangoes to ensure every mango is perfect without sacrificing any fruit.
The funding will allow Marto’s Mangoes to determine the maturity of every single mango as well as check for internal defects the moment it’s ready to be packed.
It will then be processed and shipped to the store, as well as ensure every mango packed meets the required maturity standard.
Mr Furner said up to 10 new jobs would be created when the technology was operational, 42 during construction, along with supporting up to 10 indirect positions.
“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for a lot of businesses and communities, so these additional jobs will be most welcome,” Mr Furner said
Director Ben Martin said the project would grow the business, workforce, industry and the community’s economic capacity and sustainability.
He said the project would reduce dependence on seasonal workforces, instead offering long-term skilled positions with the opportunity for training and up-skilling.
“This technology and upskilling of the workforce will increase the profile of the agricultural sector’s employment opportunities in the region. Strategically for the region, this will create greater opportunities for local youth and workforce as well as attracting workers to the region,” Mr Martin said.
“The system will enable our staff to develop new agricultural technology skills, knowledge and improve future employment prospects while the broad aim is to enhance the consumer’s eating experience.”
He said workforce up skilling would increase and change the agricultural sector employment, from seasonal opportunities to permanent positions. It also offers opportunities for local youth to enter and be retained in the agricultural industry.
The Rural Economic Development (RED) Grants program offers emerging projects up to $250,000 in co-contributions to build industry and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector. The $10 million grants program provides for three funding rounds over a three-year period ending 2021.
A total of 14 businesses have received $3.34 million under the second round of funding for the RED Grants program. Overall these 14 projects are expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.
Funding for Round 3 of the RED Grants will be announced later this year.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administer the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.