Published: 5th February 2011
In 2006 at the time of the Feast of the Senses, a group of the agri-food industry got together at a forum in South Johnstone to ignite the industry into working together to put this region on the map as the food bowl of Australia. It was a very enthusiastic gathering and a clear direction was established for the future. The next day Cyclone Larry lashed across Innisfail. The farms in ruin, communication cut and farming families walked off their properties; our plans, people and enthusiasm had gone to mud.
At the 2010 Feast of the Senses there was an air of excitement that finally after four years; crops were starting to reproduce to the capacity of pre-cyclone times. With a heightened motivation within the industry and a new awareness of local and regional foods, an application for government grant was successful to develop and position the agri-food industry into an emerging food tourism region.
A regional food branding was implemented last year and this last week was to be the start of the development of a local food network with forums and workshops planned for the Tablelands and Cassowary Coast. There have been talks with major grower groups who are ready to fully embrace a branding accreditation and strategies that would ensure sustainability of the brand and the network.
Now that Cyclone Yasi has wreaked havoc on our sugar, banana crops, vegetables and exotic fruit crops, does this mean we are back to square one again? what will the future be for our food industry? Well we aren’t giving up! The developmental work will be rescheduled and hopefully from the ashes will rise an even stronger regional food industry.