Bilingual officers help ethnic growers
From the edition of Agriculture Today.
Three new bilingual officers have started working with ethnic growers in the Sydney basin as part of a project to improve agricultural practices.
The officers, based at NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Richmond office, will work closely with researchers and extension officers to help improve grower knowledge and skills in safe chemical use and good agricultural practices.
NSW DPI research leader David Hall said the cross-agency project Sustainable Chemical Practices in the Sydney basin had the potential to offer a range of specialist extension services to ethnic growers.
'While the initial focus will be on the safe use of chemicals in the control of agricultural pests and diseases, it gives us the chance to establish some good communication links with grower groups,' he said.
'These new officers will work most closely with Arabic, Chinese and Cambodian growers and provide follow-up services to the mandatory training undertaken by all people who use agricultural chemicals.
'As good chemical management goes hand in hand with good general agricultural practices, we hope this project will identify and help target key farming issues within these communities, and help growers improve their skills and knowledge generally.'
Sorathy Mitchell will work with Cambodian growers, Chun Wah Fong with the Chinese grower community, and Basem Al-Khawaldeh with Arabic growers.
Mr Hall said the officers would actively encourage growers to undertake safe chemical use training, and implement good practices such as pesticide application records.
'By following up relevant training with on-farm support, regulations, information and encouragement, we are confident these Non English Speaking Background (NESB) producers will adopt good practices.
The project is funded by the NSW Environment Trust and involves a partnership between NSW DPI and the Department of Environmentand Conservation.
'The main aim of their work is to help improve chemical management and usage within the assist NESB grower community.
'This includes safe handling and use of chemicals, and reducing the amount of chemicals used, which in turn reduces the grower’s costs.
'By introducing better chemical management practices, the officers are also helping to ensure produce that moves through the markets is healthier and safer for consumers.
'This has the joint benefit of not only improving the profitability of their business, but also helps ensure the protection of environmental and food safety goals in the Sydney basin,' Mr Hall said.
In addition, NSW DPI is committed to running regular workshops and grower meetings targeting NESB grower groups.
Mr Hall said following the successful pilot of the first group of NESB farming students to complete Certificate III in Agriculture (through Tocal College), a class of 45 NESB growers would graduate with this qualification in March.
'By working together with NESB growers through the markets and in the Sydney basin, NSW DPI is helping them become better farm managers, able to produce a higher standard of healthy, fresh produce and protect the environment,' he said.
Contact: Virginia Brunton, Gosford, (02) 4348 1913 or 0438 496 834.
This story appears in Agriculture Today.