VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Development Officer (RDO) and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Managing Director, Bree Grima, is continuing to engage with growers across the region through meetings, workshops and producing tailored information that meets their needs. Meanwhile, biosecurity remains a pressing issue for the region as producers deal with fall armyworm and fruit fly incursions. Vegetables Australia provides an update.

‘Essential’ is an adjective meaning absolutely necessary or extremely important. The term essential has taken on a new role in the COVID-19 context. While there is no accordingly clear definition for essential services, horticulture was recognised early on the pandemic as one. From truck drivers and pickers to packers and extension officers, we all play a vital role in supporting the industry. The community can be confident horticulture has, and will, continue to provide food products and services during these challenging times.

Given business has not stopped for horticulture, it is important we support our producers now more than ever and VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Development Officer (RDO) Bree Grima has continued to do just that; meeting with growers one-on-one and progressing workshops, forums, and delivering tailored information to support the region’s specific needs with the flexibility that restrictions demand.

Biosecurity in the spotlight

The topic of biosecurity is dominating the region’s discussions as fall armyworm and fruit fly continue to have a heavy impact on vegetable production. In response to this, an agronomists group breakfast was delivered to cover topics including fall armyworm, serpentine leaf miner, market access and cucumber green mottle mosaic virus. In addition, there were also regional activity updates.

As VegNET – Wide Bay Burnett RDO, Bree also coordinated an Authorised Inspection Person Training Course for melon thrips to support vegetable producers that are required to meet this specification. This is the second time this training has been provided, and the 10 participating businesses ranked the day as informative and practical. A third biosecurity-themed extension activity was delivered in the southern part of the Wide Bay region to further support producers in that area and included guest presenters from AUSVEG, Growcom and private pest monitoring agribusinesses.

Finally, Bree will be attending Hort Connections 2021 in June, and she looks forward to connecting with industry members over the course of the three-day event.

AgForum success for region

Primary producers, agribusinesses and agricultural stakeholders came together on 30 April for AgForum, an annual event designed to bring industry together to discuss the most pertinent topics for the Wide Bay-Burnett region. With last year’s forum cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, patrons were keen to attend the event.

Headlining AgForum was a keynote address on export opportunities and megatrends in international markets by Trade and Investment Commissioners from Indonesia and Hong Kong. Following this was an impressive line-up of speakers and panellists covering several topics currently affecting agriculture, including presentations on ag-tech, water innovation, best management practice for horticulture and how to become certified, and the Wide Bay-Burnett Ag Strategy.

VegNET – Wide Bay Burnett Regional Development Officer Bree Grima facilitated a panel session with two local vegetable growers, Damien Botha from Greensill Farming and Tom Redfern from Eden Farms, along with two industry experts to discuss workforce challenges, employment law and strategies that growers are using to get through these challenging times.

Following the AgForum, growers were then provided with free entry and a lunch voucher to be used at Agrotrend – the local two-day agricultural event coordinated by Bundaberg Rotary. VegNET Wide Bay-Burnett had a stand at Agrotrend, along with several ag-tech companies to showcase the latest R&D and products available to producers to increase their productivity and profitability. It has been great to see producers and industry back out enjoying events such as these, and we look forward to continuing to connect with 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

Cover image: Growers from across the Wide Bay-Burnett region attended the AgForum event.