BETTER BUSINESS: Valley Syndicate pineapple farm partners John Cranny and Ben Clifton.
BETTER BUSINESS: Valley Syndicate pineapple farm partners John Cranny and Ben Clifton. Amy Haydock ROK

Yeppoon farmers prepared for Cyclone Marcia II

THERE'S a lot more to pineapple farming than just good soil and rainfall.

Valley Syndicate partner John Cranny has been in the industry for many years and faced plenty of challenges as a local grower.

But as the industry and environment was constantly changing, John said it was important to adapt.

He and business partner Ben Clifton were two of several local producers who attended a workshop last week that provided an opportunity for growers to rethink business and financial plans to prepare for future climate risks.

Funded by the State Government and hosted by Growcom at the Yeppoon Community Centre, John said business efficiency could always be improved.

"Basically, we want to know how to best prepare for cyclone Marcia two," Mr Cranny said.

"We've changed a fair bit in how we operate now. We've spread out our harvesting time so if another major weather event was to happen again, it wouldn't affect our entire crop at once.

"We lost a lot of crop during cyclone Marcia - we reckon about 500 tonnes worth, which is about a third of our production.

"We're recovering but we want to minimise what could be hurt if that happens again."

John said the current challenge for the year- round fruit was the recent lack of rain in the region.

Growcom's Jane Muller said the workshop helped growers deal with the increased frequency of extreme weather events like Marcia that could really knock producers back.

"One of the other topics we talk about is the mental health side of things," Mrs Muller said.

"From our experience over the last 10 years with a lot of the big natural disaster events, the immediate support comes with the clean-up and rebuilding in the first three to four months after.

"But it's not really until six to 12 months later that the people affected start to actually absorb what happened, and that can be when they can get into a bad headspace and suffer depression.

"So we have someone from Relationships Australia here today to talk about the warning signs."

Mrs Muller said they were trying to break down the stereotype that farmers were tough enough to battle it on their own.

"They need to know that it's okay to say 'I'm not coping' and that seeking help doesn't mean you have to do it forever."