Thursday, August 31, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

A State Of Interesting Developments

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay

It has been very positive to see community consultation opened on the proposed State Development Area of 1019 ha at Rosella and Racecourse. It’s another stepping-stone towards the establishment of a sugarcane-based biocommodities industry for the region.

The bio-commodities proposed for Mackay, around sustainable aviation fuels and plant-based milk/egg substitute protein manufacturing offer great opportunity not just for the sugar industry, but for our world-class engineering sector, so it makes a lot of sense to see these co-located in the area arcing between Racecourse Mill and Paget.

We are of the understanding that the Racecourse area would focus on short to medium term projects that extend on current pilot plant-type projects, whereas the Rosella site- 200ha of which is already owned by Economic Development Queensland – would be developed in a more staged approach to full-scale commercial operations for the medium to long term.

That said, we acknowledge that chunks of the area under consideration is land currently under cane, and some privately held by grower members of our organisation. Importantly, to meet the needs of the emerging biocommodities sector, we need to increase productivity and preserve quality agricultural land. We can also certainly understand that landholders within the SDA footprint may feel challenged by the SDA proposal.

The SDA is a zoning consideration that supports development of biocommodities enterprises and commercial land transactions. We have had assurances from the Queensland Government Office of the Coordinator-General that there will not be land resumptions, but that the model would be more around opportunities to sell out. As a grower advocacy body, we remind our members that we are there to support them, to assist them in these processes, and that we have industry experts across economics, agronomy, law and more who are there to assist members, even if just to get a better understanding of the process.

District Manager Michelle Martin also participated in State Development’s industry briefing held in Mackay recently. From this, we understand that landholders are receiving communication from State Development, and we encourage them - and the broader community - to also engage with the public consultation process, which is open until September 15. Find out more about the proposed SDA at

We will continue to speak for the needs of growers as the new biocommodities sector develops, whether that is around land uses, or the importance of their inclusion in the value chain. Growers are the primary investors in the base material. If the world is chasing sustainably produced cane as a base material, then that is because of the growers’ efforts and investment in their agribusinesses. We are working for these emerging opportunities to be recognised as part of a new cane supply agreement.

CANEGROWERS Mackay has taken a seat at the table in seeing this opportunity realised for the region, as part of the Biofutures Leaders Working Group, and it is always positive to see government taking a program of action that will see industry diversify into cutting edge technology that will help feed the world’s growing population, but offer solutions for existing industries to transition into new economies.

A State Development Area has been proposed for the Racecourse and Rosella localities, to support development of a sugarcane-based bio-commodities industry.  Pictures: Kirili Lamb

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