Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri. Picture: Contributed
Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri. Picture: Contributed

Australia now world’s second biggest raw sugar exporter

Summer did not deliver La Nina rainfalls but cane farmers are still rejoicing with news Australia is now the world’s second largest raw sugar exporter.

Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri said the nation had overtaken Thailand with our neighbouring country exporting 4m tonnes fewer than two years prior with an output of 2.6m tonnes.

“I think many people in our communities and government, and even cane growers, would be surprised to know we are such an important player in this market, sitting second only to Brazil,” Mr Schembri said.

Australia is expected to harvest about 29.5m tonnes of sugarcane this year, producing about 4m tonnes of raw sugar, 85 per cent of which will be exported and rake in $1.7bn.

“While there has been periodic heavy rain, La Nina didn’t deliver the soaking wet season across the regions that we were looking for and the cane crop for 2021 is around 1.5m tonnes less than the 2020 season,” Mr Schembri said.

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Mr Schembri said it was important to acknowledge the “tremendous achievements” of Australian cane growers despite the frustrations thrown their way.

“Rain gauges tell us that the Burdekin, central, and southern regions, which normally contribute around 60 per cent of Queensland’s total cane tonnage, have had below average rainfall so far this year,” he said.

“Bundaberg, Childers and Maryborough remain effectively in drought with irrigation water storages now critically low.

“It seemed like only yesterday that we were ushering in the new year but here we are now in early April and the reality is the first mills in Queensland may possibly get under way in late May, early June.”

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