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Going bananas for organics

Publication date: 1 May 2016

Grower profile – Matt Abbott, Rabbit Organics, Mena Creek, QLD

“Organic and sustainable farming is front-of-mind for banana grower Matt Abbott and his team at Rabbit Organics.

“It is a core value of our business. We believe in our product and that our job as farmers is to provide good, healthy, nutritious food, through sustainable practices.”

Matt received a scholarship through the Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars program, earlier this year.

“The scholarship has only just started but I’m already applying valuable information, like the need to be more united as an industry, with other industries and to learn from each other.”

The program, funded by Hort Innovation using the Banana Industry levy and funds from the Australian Government, was created to support the development of future industry leaders.

As part of his scholarship, Matt traveled to Ireland in March for the 2016 Contemporary Scholars Conference.

More than 75 scholars from 10 different countries, delegates and presenters participated in the eight-day conference.

“This was a life-changing experience. It focused on personal development, exposing us to a snapshot of agriculture from around the world and providing us with the skills and contacts to make the most of our scholarship,” Matt said.

After seven years as a carpenter, Matt decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a banana grower.

“I had to get a trade before working on the farm, so I did but farming was in my blood; I couldn’t stay away.”

Rabbit Organics in Mena Creek, Northern Queensland, specialises in organic Cavendish bananas, having produced 55,000 cartons in the 2014/15 season.

Matt said his favourite parts of the job were working with his family and seeing the results of all the hard work.

“There’s something special about planting something and watching it grow and having a nice bunch at the end of all that.”

Matt said he had benefited from Australian banana research.

“Talking to extension officers about research, projects and experience has helped me solve problems and make decisions about the future on the farm.”

Banana marketing in Australia meant Rabbit Organics had experienced an increase in banana sales, due to higher consumer demand, Matt said.

He added that the greatest challenges facing the industry were the management of tropical race 4 disease and oversupply.

A video presentation of Matt’s scholarship experiences will be aired at the 2016 National Banana Roadshow Series.

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