Top FNQ growers in line for award

2019 FNQ Charlie Nastasi horticultural farmer of the year award finalists

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FINALIST: Candy McLaughlin, Papaya, Skybury, Mareeba.

FINALIST: Candy McLaughlin, Papaya, Skybury, Mareeba.

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Three North Qld innovators are finalists in a prestigious grower award.

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THREE innovators of the Far North's horticulture industry have been named as finalists for a prestigious grower award.

The winner of the 2019 Charlie Nastasi horticultural farmer of the year award, which is named to honour the late Bibhoora mango grower and industry innovator, will be announced at a gala dinner in Mareeba on Friday, September 6.

This year's candidates are: Candy McLaughlin, papaya, Skybury, Mareeba; Paul Inderbitzin, bananas, Kureen Farming, Lakeland; and Frank and Dianne Sciacca, bananas, Pacific Coast Eco Bananas, Innisfail.

Ms McLaughlin was made general manager of her family's coffee and papaya farm in 2017 and now oversees production on the 470-acre farm, targeted at 200,000 kilograms of papaya every week, more than 60 pallets on a big packing day.

Paul Inderbitzin, Bananas, Kureen Farming, Lakeland.

Paul Inderbitzin, Bananas, Kureen Farming, Lakeland.

Mr Inderbitzin, 32, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the family's Lakeland farming operations which include bananas, avocadoes and broadacre irrigated cropping such as seed sorghum and lab lab and hay. He is responsible for a team of 25 people.

Mr and Mrs Sciacca have spent the last 30 years developing their unique, trademark certified farming system, Ecoganic, which led to the launch of Pacific Coast Eco Bananas.

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FNQ Growers chair, Joe Moro, said the award recognised and rewarded farming innovators and those farmers who demonstrated leadership in industry and the community.

"Candidates may not necessarily hold executive positions in a horticultural organisations but have been nominated for the industry-leading work they do, either in their own operations or as part of an industry or community organisation," Mr Moro said.

Frank and Dianne Sciacca, Bananas, Pacific Coast Eco Bananas, Innisfail.

Frank and Dianne Sciacca, Bananas, Pacific Coast Eco Bananas, Innisfail.

"This year, we have three very diverse nominations, both in terms of geography and commodity, which demonstrates the strength of the region's horticultural industry and our organisation."

The award presentation is a feature of the gala dinner, which this year is being held outdoors, at the Mareeba Soccer Club.

"This move will allow us to grow the event and deliver an engaging, interactive evening which will celebrate the achievements of our industry and grower-members," Mr Moro said.

"The organising committee has added a number of new initiatives which are designed to add value for our guests.

"They will sit alongside our long-held dinner traditions, including the auction of local fruit and vegetables, which raises significant money for the local community."

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