BOWEN Gumlu Growers Association has welcomed 11 trainees to the Whitsunday community as part of a Japanese agricultural exchange program.
In its second year, the young adults signed up for participation in the program in 2020, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have waited for the Australian borders to re-open to international travellers.
The agricultural exchange program sees participants commence farm placements with local horticultural growers for one year.
The project is hosted by the grower association in partnership with Trade and Investment Queensland.
BGGA chief executive officer Ry Collins said the trainees had been waiting a long time for the opportunity to come to fruition.
"Now that they are finally here, they will gain valuable skills and knowledge to share with their Japanese counterparts when they return home in 12 months," he said.
"The trainees are having a great time and have already completed four weeks of English language and farm-ready training at the Bowen Tafe.
"During this time, they have commenced some visits to farms to explore technology, scale and farm-safety requirements."
Trade and Investment Queensland director Denise Kreymborg noted the importance of exchange programs to create relationships abroad for all of Queensland.
Ms Kreymborg also emphasised how export opportunities could be established via these bonds.
The agricultural trainees were welcomed to the community at an event held at the Larrikin Hotel in Bowen in late April.
BGGA president Carl Walker welcomed the group to the industry along with Whitsunday Regional Council councillor Michelle Wright who welcomed the group to the local community.
Mr Collins praised local growers for contributing to the project.
"It is incredibly pleasing to see so many stakeholders contribute to this exciting program," he said.
"We thank, in particular, our participating regional growers who will contribute to the agricultural knowledge these trainees will take home with them in 2023.
"BGGA would like to acknowledge the support from the Queensland government who's contribution to the project has supported reactivation of this important international education, trade and regional promotion initiative."
BGGA is the regional industry body representing agricultural growers, producers and businesses in North Queensland.
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