Far North Queensland rural market seen with cautious optimism in 2020: HTW rural

Far North Queensland rural market seen with cautious optimism in 2020: HTW rural
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

The general outlook for the 2020 rural market in far North Queensland is best described as cautious optimism, according to recent Herron Todd White (HTW) rural report. 

The property valuation firm suggests, on the coastal horticulture front, sugar commodity prices are forecast to rise throughout 2020 as a consequence of a supply shortfall in Asia. 

Valuers said, "raw-sugar futures rose 1.13 per cent to 14.32 cents a pound in New York on Tuesday, extending their advance in 2020 to 6.7 per cent. Sugar prices have outstripped other soft-commodity markets so far this year, and have recovered 33 per cent since falling to a trough of 10.76 cents a pound in September."

"Adverse weather conditions for sugar farmers in India and Thailand - the world's largest and fourth largest producers respectively last year - have lifted prices in recent months."

Far North Queensland rural market seen with cautious optimism in 2020: HTW rural

Alternative use industries for coastal horticulture lands may reduce reliance on the traditional industries of sugar cane and bananas, HTW reports. 

The recent purchase of a large sugar cane farm near Mourilyan, south of Innisfail, by International Biomass Solutions (IBS) may signal the start of a viable alternative use for coastal sugar cane farms. 

The purchase is being used as a test plot for the growing of high protein grasses as a cheaper, alternative protein source.

IBS is engaged in the development, growing and processing of various biomass plant varieties in different parts of the world. With the use of innovative technologies of its partners, the company aims to contribute to energy and industry transformation with the ultimate objective of sustainably reducing carbon dioxide output and increasing farmers' income. 

IBS works on biomass projects independently or in close cooperation with growers, cooperatives, local or national governments and industrial stakeholders. 

The ongoing success of quarantine measures for the banana fungal disease Panama Tropical Race 4 is likely to give greater confidence to the banana industry and growers, particularly in the Tully Valley. 

Despite the threat of the disease spreading, it has been well contained to a few small outbreaks on two farms. 

Banana farm sales were limited in 2019, however the success of quarantine measure is likely to lead to more farm transactions in 2020. 

Main photo: Rural scene in far North Queensland/ Willem van Aken, 4 August 1998.

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