President of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Carl Walker with Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner with Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan, Susumu Hamamura, and Consul-General Kazunari Tanaka.
President of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association Carl Walker with Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner with Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan, Susumu Hamamura, and Consul-General Kazunari Tanaka.

How the Victorian COVID spike could affect Bowen growers

THE full impact of coronavirus is yet to be felt by growers across the region with Victorian border lockdowns and a halt in international travel predicted to take its toll in the coming months.

The picking season has kicked off for many growers with Bowen Gumlu Growers Assocation President Carl Walker saying the market has been "up and down".

However, it was yet to be seen what impact the recently-announced Victorian travel restrictions would have on this year's season.

"If there becomes a fully-fledged outbreak, I don't know how it will affect our sales to Victoria," Mr Walker said.

"It comes down to transport. Obviously, things are getting locked down a little bit … getting trucks to Victoria is a nightmare."

While Mr Walker's farm does not export a lot of produce to Victoria, he said other growers sent as much as 30 to 50 per cent of their produce down south.

 

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The inner-city lockdowns in Melbourne could also impact the market with restaurant owners and providores buying less stock with people staying home.

Mr Walker said the changes to buying and selling patterns over the coming months would play a major role in dictating how this year's season progresses.

"I didn't think it would have that much damage on the market but when you start thinking about it, all that second-grade stuff used in restaurants hasn't got a home," he said.

Looking to the future, Mr Walker also predicted some challenges heading into next year's season.

"2021 going to be difficult because world travel will be restricted," he said.

"It might be a difficult time for the industry to find labour."

Restricted international travel meant growers would have to look to domestic workers to help in the harvest, according to Mr Walker.

"We need to make sure we encourage Australians to do this type of work and not rely on government handouts because they will not last forever," he said.