Rural industry jobs get boost on Darling Downs

Rural industry jobs get boost on Darling Downs


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Agriculture minister Mark Furner with PB Agrifood managing director Peter Brodie.

Agriculture minister Mark Furner with PB Agrifood managing director Peter Brodie.

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A grain colour-sorting machine and a Lockyer Valley greenhouse are among the agriculture initiatives getting a government kickstart.

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A grain colour-sorting machine and a state-of-the-art Lockyer Valley greenhouse are among the agriculture initiatives getting a government kickstart.

PB Agrifood in Toowoomba and Pohlman's Nursery at Gatton are two recipients of Queensland government Rural Economic Development Grants.

Agriculture minister Mark Furner said PB Agrifood at Wilsonton would need up to 11 new workers to operate a high-tech individual grain colour sorter, capable of processing previously sub-par grains to meet food standard, while a further 20 indirect ongoing jobs will also be created as a result of the project, which has been supported by a grant of more than $210,000.

"This transformative project will allow the company to capture an ever-expanding export and domestic market for food grade grain, flour, and other products while allowing for value-adding of lower quality grain and allow by-products to be utilised in stockfeed," Mr Furner said.

PB Agrifood managing director Peter Brodie said the project was a joint effort from company staff and was aimed at capturing the expanding high value export food market.

The company's existing grain colour sorter can only sort soybeans, but the installation of the new sorter and associated infrastructure, worth $500,000 all up means they would be able to colour sort other products including chickpeas, mungbeans, linseed, sorghum, corn and sesame.

Mr Brodie said the project was developed to overcome issues associated with increased quality customers were demanding.

"The new colour sorter will give even greater ability to differentiate grain quality as well as sorting on size and shape, allowing more tailored products for the customer," Mr Brodie said.

Mr Brodie said if they had the machinery this year, they would have been able to sort mungbeans, which have been multi-coloured because of the drought.

"You wouldn't need to colour sort mungbeans every year but this year because with the drought it would have been very important and we would have lifted from a manufacturing product to a processing product and there's a $100 a tonne difference in the price," he said.

The new sorter has been ordered from China, while local companies will make infrastructure including elevators, with project expected to be completed by October.

Meanwhile, more than 40 jobs will be created through an expansion at Pohlman's Nursery.

The state government grant will contribute $250,000 towards the project, which is expected to create eight jobs during construction and then 40 direct and indirect jobs after it is completed.

Second generation director and general manager Robert Pohlman said the Pohlmans Nursery Propagation facility project involved a new state-of-the-art greenhouse facility that would maximise productivity, achieve the precise environment for all crops and staff and achieve the highest quality on the market.

"The new facility will allow us to meet current and future demand for products," Mr Pohlman said.

"The intended outcomes of the project include increasing productivity, production and sales for the business, thus creating and securing local jobs in the Lockyer Valley and broader economy.

"The project will increase security of supply by reducing our exposure to risk from external suppliers and allow us to further meet market demand at all times and enable Pohlmans to further explore export markets."

The Rural Economic Development Grant 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 2021.

A total of 15 businesses have received $3.3 million under the first-round of funding for the RED Grant program with the projects expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.

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