OUR SAY: Fruitful advice and assistance for orchardists

THE helping hands orchardists have received this week proof there is much more to fruit growing than planting a tree and reaping the benefits.

In fact, the announcement giving Orange farmers access to the state government’s $4 million flying fox netting program and seminars educating them on energy efficiency show how important it is to support them as much as we can.

Farmers work in one of the toughest offices possible - not only do they have to contend with the elements, they have to ward off wildlife, battle the supermarket duopoly, and survive in an sometimes merciless export market. 

While food retailers and restaurateurs can insure against food spoilage in the event of a blackout, growers do not have the same luxury when their fruit falls victim to natural causes.

And while we might moan at our quarterly electricity and water bills, farmers are hit much harder. 

These conditions mean that farmers must stay as technologically advanced and efficient as they can in order to maximise their yield for minimum outlay.

With manufacturing becoming increasingly unviable in Australia, and research and millions of hectares at our disposal, it is surprising Australia has not placed the same, or even more, strategic emphasis on agriculture as our neighbour, New Zealand. 

New Zealand has been able to increase agriculture to 55 per cent of its exports following a drop in European demand, while the mining boom has not allowed the same opportunities in Australia and the number of people employed in the sector continues to fall.

The last thing we want, especially as a food-growing region, is to be forced to rely on imported food.

The number of orchardists participating in programs this week shows they are taking a proactive approach to improve their businesses - the least we can do is help make their workplace a little more forgiving.


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