A $1 million fund to help boost the Queensland strawberry industry has been announced by the state government, as farmers continue to struggle following the recent strawberry sabotage saga.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding would be used to promote the quality of Queensland strawberries, investigate with the industry how to further improve traceability and integrity in the supply chain and to help growers for the remainder of this season.
“This past week, Queensland has been the victim of an ugly, calculated and despicable crime,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
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“The sabotage of our strawberry industry is not just an attack on hard-working growers and workers, but it reaches into almost every home and school lunch box”
There are approximately 150 strawberry growers in Queensland, with most production around Dayboro, Beerwah, Wamuran, Elimbah, Caboolture, Stanthorpe and Bundaberg.
The value of Queensland strawberries for 2017–18 is forecast to be $160 million, with Queensland growers producing 6-15,000 tonnes of fruit per season – up to 60 million punnets of strawberries.
“Strawberry farmers say their banks have already been on the phone to them,” the Premier said.
“I urge those banks to act responsibly and with compassion.”
My government is committing $1m to help strawberry growers and industry stay on their feet in addition to $100,000 reward leading to an arrest. The community has to come together to find who is responsible for this crime.
— AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 18, 2018
The funding boost for growers follows the state governments approval of a $100,000 reward from Queensland Police for information leading to an arrest of the person responsible for the strawberry contamination.
“Police are doing their job too, but it is a difficult one. They are having to deal with not only the original contamination, but also apparent copy cats,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I call on anyone with information on the culprits to come forward – think what damage could have been done if a toddler had been handed a piece of contaminated fruit.”
Queenslanders are being reminded to cut up any strawberries before eating them.
Says it all… pic.twitter.com/dHAbKHX6MB
— Rachel Mackenzie (@GrowcomRachel) September 17, 2018