Australian melon growers are concerned about the commitment by the Australian and Queensland Governments to invest in Japanese farmers to produce high-end ‘gift’ melons in North Queensland.
An agreement was reached by the Australian and Japanese Governments to proceed at a summit in November 2018.
The land and greenhouses will be provided by the Queensland Government. Japan will send farmers to provide technological assistance and train local staff.
Australian Melon Industry Development Manager Dianne Fullelove said, in a media release: “The deal will enable Japanese farmers to grow melons in Australia when the Governments should be supporting Australian growers to produce these unique fruit.”
The project is earmarked for Ayr in Queensland, a large growing region for Australian growers but is looking to expand into other regions and commodities such as strawberries and persimmons.
“Our industry is disappointed that both the Morrison and Paluszek Governments have supported foreign farmers over Australian melon growers.” Ms Fullelove said.
The melon industry requested support from the Queensland Government in 2018, following a very difficult year for local melon growers but support was refused by the Minister for Agriculture, Mark Furner.
The Queensland Government provided significant financial support to the strawberry industry in 2018 but the Minister decided that “it is not clear if a similar response would be beneficial” to the melon industry (in a letter dated 7th December 2018).
“What is clear is that our Governments are prioritising foreign farmers over Australian farmers with financial and logistical support to produce commodities that Australian farmers could produce.” Ms Fullelove said. “Australian melon growers should be assisted to produce these types of melons with access to the resources that Australia is providing to Japanese farmers.”