Sugarcane has been grown in the NSW Northern Rivers region for over 150 years and has been a stable source of livelihood for hundreds of farming families and provided thousands of employment opportunities for the local community.

Throughout this time, the industry has weathered many challenges and navigated fluctuations in agricultural commodity prices on the back of a remarkably resilient crop – sugarcane.

This was demonstrated again in the catastrophic floods that impacted the region in early 2022. Despite sugarcane crops being inundated under metres of water, in most cases, growers were able to harvest a crop during that season. Many other crops in the region did not fare as well.

The recent surge in sugar prices has further bolstered the strength of the NSW sugar industry, with growers poised to receive over $55 per tonne of sugarcane for at least the next three seasons.

This combination of factors has prompted a renewed interest in sugarcane production in the region.

Chris Connors, Chief Executive Officer of Sunshine Sugar, noted, “In the last 6 to 12 months we have received numerous inquiries from both existing and prospective sugarcane growers looking to expand their cane production or venture into the sector.”

Mr. Connors attributes this surge in interest to a combination of factors, including attractive sugar prices, the resilience of the sugarcane crop, the positive outlook for the sector and farmers looking to diversify their cropping operations and spread risk.

The Sunshine Sugar Board has recently approved applications for more than 1,000 hectares in the Richmond Valley area to transition to sugarcane this season. The property owners are keen to tap into the opportunities the local sugar industry provides, and as such have been granted a production entitlement.

With planting season having just started, anyone holding land in the Northern Rivers region and interested in sugarcane cultivation, is encouraged to reach out to their nearest sugar mill or contact the Sunshine Sugar corporate office situated in Ballina on (02) 6681 2700.

Sunshine Sugar stands out as the sole 100% Australian grown, made, and owned sugar manufacturer, operating in partnership with the grower-owned NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative and the family-owned Manildra Group.

[14 September 2023]