THE Gympie region has become home to almost a quarter of Australia's commercial ginger growers and the centre of a $120 million-a-year industry between the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg.
About 80% of Australia's ginger is grown in Queensland and Gympie is the new destination of choice for growers, putting distance between their crops and the threat of the fungal rot that wiped out 70% of the Wide Bay and Coast crop last year.
While dairy production and some other small crops have declined steadily here, young farmers like Will Garrett of Langshaw and former dairy farmers the Roddaus of Kia Ora have moved into ginger.
They have swelled the ranks of local commercial producers to 10. There are only 45 producers throughout Australia.
Ginger crops near Gympie range in size from less than a hectare to 16ha, and account for up to a fifth of the land under cultivation across the whole country.
Sunshine Coast-based agricultural consultant Rob Abbas, who works with Gympie growers, said yesterday the ginger industry was still expanding.
He said Gympie offered the right climate, affordable rural land, plentiful water and high-quality, well-drained soil.
Gympie Packhouse director Peter Buchanan said ginger accounted for a significant proportion of the produce leaving Gympie in the one to two semi-trailers each day, though it varied depending on the time of year.
Limes were another product expanding in this region, he said. Avocados, mushrooms and brussels sprouts were staples.
Ginger was first grown commercially in Australia at Buderim in the early 1900s, mainly for the domestic fresh market.
At that time all processed ginger was imported from China. Processed ginger was expected to nurture the industry's expansion, Mr Abbas said.
The first processing facility was built in Buderim in 1941.
Since December 2010, a fungal rot has destroyed ginger crops on the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay.
Both regions are responsible for 80% of Australian ginger production.
- Gympie ginger growers - 10
- Australian ginger growers - 45
- Gympie land under ginger production - 30ha
- Australian land under ginger production - 150ha