Qld farm to install mango quality control tech

Friday, 22 May, 2020

Qld farm to install mango quality control tech

A North Queensland mango farm is aiming to set a new industry benchmark for mango quality control with a funding boost from the Palaszczuk government.

Marto’s Mangoes, located in Bowen, is one of 14 Queensland businesses to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $250,000 to fund the expansion of its 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,” said Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries.

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 technology will also allow the company to check the fruit for any internal defects the moment it is ready to be packed. The fruit will then be processed and shipped to the store, with technology ensuring every mango packed meets the required maturity standard.

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,” Furner said.

Director Ben Martin said the project would grow the business, workforce, industry and the community’s economic capacity and sustainability. The project will also reduce dependence on seasonal workforces, instead offering long-term skilled positions with the opportunity for training and upskilling.

“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,” Martin said.

Workforce upskilling will increase and change employment in the agricultural sector, from seasonal opportunities to permanent positions. It could also provide opportunities for local youth to enter and be retained in the agricultural industry.

“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,” Martin said.

The 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 in 2021.

A total of 14 businesses have received $3.34 million under the second round of funding for the RED Grants program; these 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.

For more information about the RED Grant scheme, visit: www.qrida.qld.gov.au.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/volff

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