Technology a game-changer for Bowen Mango farm
MARTO'S Mangoes Farm have been awarded a $250,000 grant which will provide for new quality control technology, create news jobs and limit waste.
Owners of the Bowen farm expect the Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant to create up to 62 new jobs and allow for the purchase of a new mango grader to assist with quality control and limit wastage.
The technology currently being used on the farm means they must select fruit at random and cut into it to check the quality, or use a NIR (near infra-red spectrometer) gun to measure maturity on a single piece of fruit - both time consuming and wasteful methods.
The funding will allow the farm to introduce more advanced technology to determine the maturity of every single mango and check for internal imperfections, without having to sacrifice any fruit.
Marto's Mangoes director Ben Martin said they are hyper-aware of how lucky they were to secure the funding, considering the current climate and number of growers struggling.
"There are a lot of businesses out there really struggling so we were really lucky to secure that funding," he said.
"It will allow us to get a new grader for the packing shed. It will mean we can grade our fruit at a much higher level than previously so that we can guarantee the quality of every single piece of fruit in the tray.
"At the moment we are the only mango growers in Australia to have it.
"We're the first to adopt the technology in Australia."
Mr Martin said they were working to implement the new technology and aimed to have it up and running this season.
He said the project will offer long-term benefits to the community because they will be less dependent on seasonal workers and able to offer 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," Mr Martin said.
"Strategically for the region, this will create greater opportunities for local youth and workforce as well as attracting workers to the region.
"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."
Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said Marto's Mangoes is one of 14 businesses in Queensland to receive and RED Grant, which would allow them to fund the expansion of the business and create jobs.
Mr Furner said up to 10 new jobs would be created when the technology was operational, 42 during construction and it would support up to 10 indirect positions.
"Marto's Mangoes farms 23,000 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," he said.
"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."
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.
Fourteen Queensland businesses have received $3.34 million under the second round of funding for the RED Grants program, which are expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.
Funding for round 3 of the grants program will be announced later this year.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
For more information about the RED Grant scheme, visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au