Beginning in mid-2018 this investment represents the latest capacity building project for the mango industry.
Getting more Australian mango growers to adopt best management practices and ensuring they have the help, hands-on experience, and technology they need to improve the profitability and long-term sustainability of the Australian mango industry.
Ben Martin is an award-winning mango grower and manager of Marto’s Mangoes in Far North Queensland. He’s passionate about growing the industry and working collaboratively with other growers to encourage the adoption of best management practices. This program supports the role of an Industry Development Manager, who works closely with Ben to help achieve this.
“I meet with Marine fortnightly and her updates are really valuable to the industry,” says Ben. “But the regular forecasts and flow tables provided to growers as part of this program are also an extremely valuable resource. Without an accurate forecast, you’ve got no hope at all of trying to plan industry marketing activities or seeing how the flow of the crops are going. It’s a key part of the program.”
The program also funded a supply chain temperature management assessment using Escavox trackers. Mango consignments were tracked in real-time, from packhouse to retail distribution centre and wholesalers. Learnings from the assessment will further refine best practice management guidelines, improving fruit quality and retaining more value in the cool chain.
Unfortunately, some growers have been slow to adopt best management practices, reinforcing the need for continued grower education and training programs. “Growers should be aware of what best practice is and the implications,” says Ben. “I think the results have highlighted that some growers just aren’t at that level yet. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great growers out there, but there are still quite a few who still don’t get it.”
At its core, the program is facilitating the industry-wide adoption of best management practices and increasing the reach of the mango industry R&D program. In addition, the project team are constantly updating grower resources, conducting online workshops, and providing a benchmark of current production practices. In 2020 the project team also released the COVID-19 Grower Guide – a very thorough resource for growers at a particularly challenging time
As a result of the program, a suite of extension activities has taken place in key production regions keeping growers and supply chain participants informed of R&D outcomes and Best Management Practice recommendations. There has also been a particular focus in this regard for growers from non-English speaking backgrounds.
The data collected shows that these measures have led to an increase in the adoption of Best Management Practices over the three-year project period.
Growers now also have access to on-farm maturity testing for their crops, measuring dry matter in a non-destructive way, while helping to ensure their orchards meet export requirements, particularly for the key markets of China, Korea and the US.
The program also shared valuable discoveries made around manipulating mango flowering to improve production. It also executed a comprehensive industry comms strategy, providing growers with the latest information on a weekly basis.