Farmers see sweet side of crisis

THE main stay of Tweed's economy for more than 100 years - cane farming - looks set to remain as one of the few bright spots in the local economy as the global financial crisis bites harded.

With the traditional wet summer having returned, plus world sugar prices climbing and the weak Australian dollar benefiting exports, canefarmers are looking forward to a sweet 2009.

On top of that, Tweed cane farmers who diversified into rice growing are also having a good season, with a world shortage of rice helping their cause.

Tweed Canegrowers Association president Graham Martin said it seemed “the old cycle” of good rainfall in summer had returned to help out cane farmers who had struggled in recent years with drier summers than usual.

“The sunlight we've had in the last week is also tremendous,” he said.

“We have plenty of moisture. Now we just want sunlight to kick the crop along ... sunlight and heat is what we need now.”

Mr Martin said soybean crops had also benefited, but also were in need of plenty of sunshine now.

As one of just two cane farmers in the Tweed to have planted a crop of dry-land rice which does not need irrigation, he had also benefited from the rain.

“It's grown well. I've got a good crop,” Mr Martin said.

Boom time

Sugar is sweet thanks to:

  • The low Aussie dollar
  • Lower production in Europe and India
  • Increased demand from China and India
  • Continued diversion of Brazilian sugar cane into ethanol
  • The global economic crisis is not expected to have any major influence on sugar consumption

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