A new sugarcane roadmap was unveiled at the Developing Northern Australia Conference in Mackay today, which holds high hopes for the future of the industry.
The Sugar Plus vision and roadmap was developed through a nine-month engagement process across the Australian sugar industry supply chain.
It was jointly funded and supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), Sugar Research Australia, Canegrowers, the Australian Sugar Milling Council, AgForce, Australian Cane Farmers Association and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
CRCNA CEO Anne Stunzner said Sugar Plus outlined an important role for the industry in fuelling the future of food, energy and fabrication.
"The sugarcane industry has identified an exciting and transformational future of sustainably producing sugar and bioproducts at the heart of regional communities," she said.
"The roadmap outlines opportunities for a substantially larger industry.
"A growing bioeconomy industry will enable Australia to become increasingly self-sufficient, improving economic resilience and national security."
Sugar Research Australia CEO Roslyn Baker congratulated industry organisations for the strong partnership and collaboration in developing the roadmap and their commitment to innovation and growth.
"The roadmap includes initiatives to support better business-as-usual in the near term, add value and create new revenue streams in the medium term, and become a bioeconomy powerhouse in the longer term," she said.
Ms Baker outlined the roadmap as the following initiatives:
"The roadmap outlines the actions needed across a range of levels, from individual farms to local communities through regional coordination or support of a mill and national leadership," Ms Baker said.
Australian Sugar Milling Council chairman John Pratt said the roadmap demonstrated the industry had an exciting future with the regional bioeconomy offering enormous potential.
"We see that if we can exploit opportunities to add value to raw sugar production, that the industry will be stronger and have a very bright future indeed," he said.
"We can do a whole lot more with co-generation and bioethanol. Then there's precision fermentation, bioplastics and sustainable aviation fuels.
"They are all possibilities into the future given the right policy settings and working in close collaboration with industry."
The roadmap outlined a series of actions in the near, medium and longer term, to strengthen and build the industry.
Canegrowers chairman Owen Menkens said industry organisations were committed to ongoing collaboration to implement the roadmap and Sugar Plus vision.
"By working together, we can increase profitability and keep the industry growing," he said.
"We can be an industry that the state and nation are proud of, that communities want to support, and young people want to start their career with."
AgForce cane president Ricky Mio said the industry had a proud history of innovation that would continue as the industry pursued its vision.
"The world is changing. We need to be in front of the change, not behind," he said.
"This opportunity comes around in our life so very few times and I'll be as proud as punch when we achieve what we've set out to do."
Ms Stunzner said analysis undertaken in developing the roadmap indicated enormous opportunity.
"Australian demand for heavy fuels and plastics is substantial," she said.
"Even modest adoption of biofuels and bioplastic equates to a substantial amount of sugar equivalent alternative products.
"Australia's current domestic market alone would create massive demand for alternative protein feedstock, aviation fuel and bioplastics.
"It's now over to the industry to bring this roadmap to life and take the necessary steps to ensure this is not just a report, but a clear plan for action."
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