Throughout 2020, VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett was working with vegetable industry stakeholders to develop and identify four specific topics to drive a regional strategy for the next five years. Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Managing Director Bree Grima reports on these topics and the potential benefits that will be delivered to growers across the Wide Bay‑Burnett area.

The VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Extension Advisory Group (REAG) forms a vital component of the VegNET Program to support the transition of the program from a conduit of information to an enabler of change. The REAG was established as per a key output of a regional vegetable strategy for a five-year period.

Members of the group include vegetable growers who have established agribusinesses; a technical advisor who is a researcher with specific skillset in soil, water and managing natural resources; a Hort Innovation Project Manager; and the VegNET Regional Development Officer.

The VegNET Regional Development Officer also interviewed a range of producers to further understand industry needs. Key challenges, required outcomes, awareness of support and barriers to adoption were all explored. The themes that emerged from these conversations included productivity, efficiencies on-farm, labour, compliance and post-harvest impacts – and it was these themes that drove the project plans for the Wide Bay-Burnett regional strategy.

The five-year regional plan was developed and identified four specific topics for which project briefs were developed. These projects include options to manage and reduce plastic waste, value-add options for addressing on-farm organic waste, support of and uptake of Ag-Tech on-farm and developing a coordinated pest management approach for the region.

Chilli crops grown in the Wide Bay region are at-risk of being impacted by fruit fly. With the region home to Australia’s largest chilli company, there are opportunities for the VegNET Regional Development Officer to work directly with producers to coordinate pest management.

Putting pests on the agenda

One of the four project plans developed supports a coordinated pest management approach for the region and is an example of one program that can meet and combine several themes, from productivity and efficiencies on-farm to compliance and post-harvest impacts.

There are also opportunities to engage with consultants and producers to identify biosecurity concerns in the region and address these in a coordinated way. One option includes bringing together regional consultants and agronomists and developing a network of trapping to determine pest activity that is causing concern. Providing a coordinated approach to monitor pest activity will potentially reduce the impact this pest has on host crops, as well as increase producer willingness to share pest management data with neighbours and relevant authorities.

Fruit fly is a damaging pest in the Wide Bay region that affects a wide range of crops, including chilli – and given Bundaberg is home to Australia’s largest chilli company, there are opportunities to work directly with producers to coordinate pest management and reduce its impact.

Other biosecurity concerns in the region include fall armyworm, which is increasingly impacting the region’s sweet corn crops, and cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV). CGMMV was first detected in the region in early 2017 and is continuing to directly impact the region’s vegetable producers, particularly with their ability to export.

VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett looks forward to delivering the projects outlined in the regional plan to further increase the productivity and profitability of our vegetable growers.

Find out more

Please contact Bree Grima at or phone the BFVG office on 07 4153 3007.

VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.

Project Number: VG19009